Colin Dodgson’s New Photo Book Wants Us to Take Better Care of Nature

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Ciento por Ciento by Colin Dodgson
100% (Ciento por Ciento), 2022© Colin Dodgson, courtesy of the artist

Shot in South America last year, Colin Dodgson’s latest photo book captures humans and nature coexisting harmoniously in warm, honey-like sunlight

In 2018, photographer Colin Dodgson was invited by World Land Trust ambassador Jonny Lu to Central America for ten days. While there, he captured the work of environmental organisations endeavouring to promote sustainability and conservation in the region. The result of the trip was Deeper Green, published in 2019. All profits went towards the World Land Trust; the project was a resounding success.

In 2022, Lu invited Dodgson on another trip, this time for two weeks in Patagonia, South America. Again, he documented the conservation work happening there, led by World Land Trust partner organisations Fundación Somuncurá and Fundación Patagonia Natural. The resulting photographs are published in his new book, Ciento por Ciento (translated as ‘100 per cent’). Again, all profits from sales of the book will be donated to the World Land Trust.

The book joyfully captures instances where humans and nature coexist harmoniously – in one shot a tiny El Rincon Stream frog perches in the palm of a man’s hand, in another, a penguin peers up inquisitively at the camera. “It was amazing to see people who are actually working day in, day out – to protect very tiny fish in the stream from trout that have been introduced to the environment, for instance,” Dodgson says, speaking to me from his California home over Zoom. “I think people form their opinions about what conservation work is like having not experienced it firsthand. The reality of how things get done day-to-day in the field is quite different ... it’s not like some pie in the sky thing, it’s real science, being done on the ground.”

While Dodgson’s background is primarily in fashion photography, those familiar with his work will know he’s no stranger to shooting the natural world: many of his editorial shoots capture subjects against rocky terrain, sprawling landscapes, or crashing ocean waves. And, of course, his images are characteristically awash with warm, honey-like sunlight.

He says he’s always had a strong connection with nature. “I grew up surfing, and so I know that you have to sort of adapt to nature,” he explains. “I think that’s something which is sort of lost in modern society – we aren’t listening enough to what’s happening to the natural world around us, and using that [knowledge] to limit or expand our choices and options in our daily lives.”

“I see our relationship with nature as being conditional. It doesn’t care about us, but we need to care about it. So we need to adapt,” he continues, explaining that he wants to explore the human-nature relationship “in the most straightforward and honest way” in his work. “Whether it’s by going and doing a project like this for a conservation charity, or within my own studio, reusing paper and chemicals to make my whole process more sustainable,” he says.

He adds that he believes art has immense power to aid in the fight to protect the natural world. “I think any amount of awareness you can raise for a cause that can benefit the planet is important,” he says. “I think that as an artist, you’re given a talent to share that with people.” But he isn’t just hoping to ‘raise awareness’ through the photographs. He’s also hoping that people will feel a sense of optimism from the work. “All of these things are such a big problem – like the climate, and conservation – and it can get a little heavy sometimes,” he says. “What I’d like to do is uplift people, and show them that it’s fun and exciting and the world is incredible, and it’s there to be experienced. That’s also a part of raising awareness: a sense of hope through happiness.”

Ciento por Ciento by Colin Dodgson is out on April 22. 100 per cent of profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the World Land Trust to help protect and preserve endangered animal habitats around the world, acre by acre.