Photographer J Henry Fair has for years focused his work on trying to solve the issue of people looking away from climate change.
Photographer J Henry Fair has for years focused his work on trying to solve the issue of people looking away from climate change. Using helicopters as a transport vehicle to reach the height needed to capture his perfect shot, Fair takes his photographs from the sky, offering a birds-eye-view of catastrophic landscapes down below – which in turn, actually look quite beautiful.
Hovering over sites that have been touched deeply by mankind’s overconsumption, Fair has seen what many of us have not: how our current actions actually affect our planet. Industrial factories and activities are major contributors to air pollution due to the high amount of toxic gases, materials and contamination that are pumped out into the surrounding environment as well as into the atmosphere. As companies in the global south are beginning to realise that their manufacturing and production must be greener, some companies still push their problems to sites abroad.
Fair’s photos are characterised by intense colours and shades, seemingly unearthly patterns, and unfamiliar textures. “When you remove the horizon from a landscape shot, we, the audience, lose our reference of what we think the image may be showing us. In turn, the image can become something else, something more abstract”, he says.
Removing a reference point is a key part of Fair’s craft. By alluring audiences with the stunning and striking colours and patterns of his works, he aims to spark meaningful conversation about climate change once people come closer, and actually understand what they are actually looking at: “The motivation is to try to drive change in our society… to get people to rethink what we take for granted”.
These photographs, which have been taken over the span of decades in all corners of the world, are all part of his series called ‘Hidden Costs’. It shows us how human overconsumption and overuse is harming our planet, by presenting to wider audiences how extraction, production, and waste of everything from metals, oil, and phosphate, are leaving their footprint on our planet.
“In order to understand that long chain of causation, you have to want to know more, and have to be curious – and many people don’t really want to know. That is what my pictures are about. Getting people curious enough. I make these ironically beautiful pictures about horrible things, in the hopes that people will want to know more about them, and question their complicity,” Fair explains. With his works behind ‘Hidden Costs’ being regularly exhibited to the public around the world, from New York City to Paris to Singapore, this conversation is becoming harder to ignore.
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