“Growing up, I surfed all the time, so I have a built-in connection with nature,” says the photographer Colin Dodgson (who lensed W's current cover story, starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie).
The launch of his new book, Deeper Green, took place yesterday (December 9) in London surrounded by the leafy tropical greenery of the Barbican Conservatory—a fitting backdrop given that natural connections the threads that link each photograph in this series.
The book, a sensitive documentation of ten days spent shadowing park rangers in Belize in December 2018, was released in collaboration with the conservation charity World Land Trust. The WLT will receive 100% of the tome's profits.
“We started talking about this project almost two years ago,” Dodgson says. “We decided to turn it into a book to actually get it into people’s hands and make it more accessible.”
Dodgson’s own connection with nature will come as no surprise for those familiar with his fashion portfolio, which includes work for brands including Gucci, Burberry and Vivienne Westwood. He is best known for his analog editorials and campaigns that place the subject against sprawling beaches and wild landscapes.
In Deeper Green, the human figure is removed. The most striking images are its most simple; a close-up of a green supermarket wall or a hazy evening sunset reminds us to appreciate the tiny details both in, and in proximity to, nature. Set in the context of a global sustainability movement, these photographs show us, in part, what it is that we are trying to sustain.
“The rangers that we shadowed are on the frontlines of conservation,” Dodgson explains. “They’re dealing with poaching and wildfires. Conservation in Belize is less to do with not using plastic and more about being there on the ground.”
Dodgson was accompanied by creative director and World Land Trust ambassador Jonny Lu.
“We wanted to open up conservation to a slightly more creative audience,” says Lu. “It's about making connections between photography and science, between artists and landscapes, between fashion and the environment. I hope that with this project we can inspire people in fashion to change their production lines or the way that they promote their brands.”
Deeper Green captures the in-between (or obscure) moments that we don’t always get to see in wildlife documentaries, like ocelot paw prints next to the road and a tree trunk with a QR code.
“There are certain photographs in the project that capture these really perfect moments where everything comes together,” says Dodgson. “It's how you feel. It's what you see. It’s the amazing colors. It's everything. There were some really special moments.”
The images evoke a feeling of intimacy that can be difficult to capture when you go into a community as an outsider from a different culture. “Because it was unknown, everything was exciting, but you have to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Any time I get the chance to highlight conservation or anything that helps the planet, I'm more than happy to oblige."
With sustainability being such a pressing concern, some artists might feel a socially-motivated pressure to reflect that in their work. But, Colin Dodgson is happiest when he’s “just bobbing around in the ocean.”
"It's natural to me."