A Photographer's Mission to Help Spread the Word on Climate Change Through Photographs

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Scientists and politicians speaking about climate change is one thing, but as Vatsala Devi recently learned, the power to persuade is particularly strong with imagery, and met a dedicated photographer who is using her talents to tell an important story.

An unexplained fascination with polar bears led one photographer on a trip to the Arctic, where not only came did she come in close contact with polar bears, but also witnessed Mother Nature paying the price for mankind’s greed and callowness. Bonnie Yap, a well-known and seasoned photographer recently made a trip to the Arctic and came back feeling that if we do not change our mind-sets and actively take steps to protect our planet from the damage of man-caused climate change, then our future generations would be left with nothing but a sense of loss and regret.

See Also: A Malaysian Photographer’s Rise from a Fishing Village to Global Recognition

Fuelled by what she had witnessed in her trip to Arctic, Bonnie Yap has decided to use her photographic talents for a good cause. She recently hosted a photo exhibition to showcase the pictures capturing the effects of global warming and to help spread awareness on the need to preserve the environment. Titled “Jewels of the Arctic” the photo exhibition was held throughout the month of March, to coincide with Earth Hour and hopefully spured individuals to adopt a more spirited role in preserving the environment. Bonnie, who has been in the photography industry for almost two decades, said that when she planned her trip, it was because she wanted to see polar bears up close before they became extinct. Little did she know that her trip to the Arctic and what she would see there would jolt her into wanting to do her part for the environment.

“It’s becoming clear that in one way or another we, humans, have caused most of the past century’s warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives, and I think we have to acknowledge that this is a serious problem and that one day, much of what we take for granted might not be here for us anymore,” said Bonnie pensively. “I cannot save the world, nor can I stop global warming singlehandedly, but what I can do is to open the eyes of the people and make them understand the severity of global warming and the impact it has on the environment in the best way possible and that is through visuals,” said Bonnie who was the first woman photographer to be hired by The Star and was with the company for 12 years before deciding it was time to move on.

As a photographer, the idea of having a photo exhibition was always at the back of Bonnie’s mind but she always felt that she didn’t have strong images that would hold people’s interest. And when she set off on this trip, the idea of hosting an exhibition with the images from Arctic never crossed her mind but after seeing the ravages that is causing a set of changes to the Earth’s climate, and capturing them on film, she thought the subject matter was strong for an exhibition.

“Even while I was there, there were changes to the landscape every day and I can assure you that what I’ve seen on this trip, you may not be able to see if you went to the Arctic next month – this is the measure of how rapidly the environment is changing,” she said with regret. Citing one example, Bonnie said that as they were approaching glaciers, she could hear them cracking and breaking off.

Her “Jewels of the Arctic” exhibition was a significant milestone for Bonnie because not only does she get to showcase some of her best works but she is also doing her part for the community as the proceeds from the sales of the photographs was channelled to Assunta Hospital’s Social Welfare Outpatient Programme to aid children from social organisations in need of medical aid.


“When I was thinking of ways to do my part for the community, I wanted it to be a cause that will give me a sense of fulfilment and also resonate with me. And over the years I’ve seen the passing of people who are close to me and it drove home the point that life is short and I realised that health is a very important aspect and to help children who cannot afford their medical treatment is great way to give back to the community,” said Bonnie who very recently discovered she is dyslexic. “We have also spoken to some doctors, who have agreed to join hands with us and provide free consultation for these children,” she added.

Bonnie doesn’t plan to stop with this exhibition as there are plans for her to make a trip to Antarctica in 2015, and hopefully a second exhibition thereafter.

Source: The Expat Magazine March 2014

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