Thursday, July 18, 2019

Florian Schulz explores conservation work through photography

February 20, 2019 by Emma Bouck, contributing writer

Most people would dread the idea of travelling to an isolated part of the world; photographer Florian Schulz isn’t one of those people. Instead, Schulz—who is speaking in Victoria in February at a National Geographic Live event—is intrigued by the idea of the deserted and unknown places. He sees them as an opportunity to spread awareness about conservation through the lens of his camera.

“I’m so drawn to those places because it seems to me that I can wander into a kind of lost time, into a historic time, like almost time-travelling into the past, because most of the world has been changed by human beings, but there are these few places that are still ancient, or as they always used to be,” he says. “I’m totally fascinated by that, because you see how the world used to be.” 

Schulz picked up photography at a young age. He enjoyed borrowing his father’s DSLR camera to explore the land around him. He would tell stories about his beautiful observations of birds and foxes, but he soon came to the realization that he could better explain his thoughts through images created from the camera. 

“It was pretty early on that I wanted to be a photographer to inspire people, to share with them the impressions of nature, and it was also that I could use my photography for conservation work,” he says. 

A photograph taken by Florian Schulz, who uses his photography to explore his love of nature (photo by Florian Schulz).

Schulz believes that images can have a lot of power and can be an effective way of spreading important messages. Sometimes it isn’t enough for people to read a caption or watch an entire film to care about conservation; it can be as small as a single photograph that captures an interest or promotes a feeling. He feels a strong calling to younger generations, motivating them with visual imagery. 

“I would even say in today’s time it’s more important to engage the younger generation, or even kids, into it because we’re so drawn to all the digital media—phones, iPads, and televisions—so much that people don’t have much of an idea anymore about nature and how ecosystems work,” he says. 

Most of Schulz’s work brings him to remote and wild places. He, for example, has travelled through the Arctic, where he discovered many exotic animals and the experience of being in a place uninhabited by humans. 

“You might stand on a mountain looking into the distance and all that you see is open tundra and animals instead of any power lines, roads, or houses,” he says. “Some of these landscapes are still so open, and that’s what drew me to the Arctic—that I could still discover new things and, of course, fascinating animals, there’s no question about it.” 

Schulz is passionate about photography and enjoys sharing his photos and stories with others. He encourages aspiring photographers and storytellers to do the same.  

“Think about a field, area, or topic that you’re passionate about and then start visiting that topic over again and photograph it with all the different lenses that you have,” he says. “And if it’s something you’re already passionate about, you’re going to slowly become an expert in it and your images will stand out.” 

As well as photography, Schulz has discovered that film can provoke reactions in people and engage them, perhaps even more so, through movement and the thrilling progression of a particular scene. 

“The people that come to see my presentation will see both film and images, and they will get totally immersed in some of the emotions and sequences of film,” he says. “Other times it will be stand-alone images that are some of my best photography.”

Florian Schulz
7 pm Wednesday, February 27
$37.50 and up ($20 student tickets available day of)
Royal Theatre
rmts.bc.ca

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