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Tragic Beauty

“Activist with a Camera”


Excerpt from Issue 1 Love – Loss

Over the past six years Michael Hall has produced a captivating – and at times haunting – body of work. He loves the world so much and cares so much for its future, that he can’t help but capture its beauty and majesty in a way that shows how degraded we have become as blatantly wasteful people. In his work and in our conversations, Hall appears to be a man on a mission, a devoted activist, searcher, someone who – in both his profession and life – is seeking to change the way we see what we humans are doing on this planet. Here, he discusses how the planet has become his subject and how he feels it’s his mission to live by example and simplify his own existence.

What kind of photographer are you?

I am primarily an environmental photographer. When I started taking photographs back in the early 80s, I was a travel photographer and then I kind of settled in Wellington for a while and then settled in England travelling around Europe. So I became more of a corporate photographer and then I morphed into a commercial photographer. Through the 90s I was commercially based, mostly doing branding work for the likes of Qantas and Westpac, and a few big names like that. It was fabulous work. We used to travel a lot, take beautiful photographs, but it was for corporates. Making corporates look good, that’s what I used to do for a living.

What’s the project about?

It’s a fairly comprehensive and global catalogue of work concerning the causes, the effects and the solutions of climate change. It’s become a body of work I am using for educational purposes through my lectures, presentations, publications and so forth.

What drives you to find what you’re looking for in this particular project?

I feel very deeply that humanity is facing one hell of a big problem and will face a lot more in the future. I’m very, very concerned about the state of the planet, the state of all the creatures that we share this planet with, and the bio-diversity we are losing. What we have lost, and what we will be losing, if the powers-that-be have their way.

I’ve found myself in the role of being an activist with a camera. I want to right this wrong that I see quite blatantly happening and I want to be part of a process of kind of slapping the big guys across the face saying no, you can’t destroy my planet. And I’m doing everything in my power to create a better world for us.

It’s all I can do. I’m a photographer, that’s what I do, that’s what I do well and through my photography I’m telling the story of what’s going on here. There are a lot of people on board who are knowledgeable about what’s going on, and there’s an awful lot of people in the world who don’t know or possibly don’t even give a damn because they’re not confronted with what I feel is obvious.

I’m reading and travelling a lot and I’m seeing first hand not only the extent of the pollution that’s being placed on the planet but also the growth of populations and the demand for resources that the world is not coping with anymore.