‘They are living maps’: how Richard Mosse captured environmental damage in the Amazon

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In a new set of photos, environmental degradation in the Amazon is explored to shine light on ‘a hideously complex story’

In his 20s, Irish photographer Richard Mosse made his first foray into photojournalism by capturing postwar Balkan nations. This experience led to a realisation that the medium was inadequately suited to capture complex, layered narratives. “You have to put the thing in front of the camera, and when that thing is an abstraction, far bigger than a human figure, it’s very difficult to do,” he explained in a recent podcast with Monocle.

The subjects he found himself covering over the next two decades were equally abstract and complex as the first, ranging from conflict in DR Congo to the refugee crisis in Europe. However, in his search for ways to subvert the medium and bend it to his will, he eventually managed to create his own unique brand of photography, characterised by the use of infra-red film and other technology rooted in military reconnaissance.

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