Photographs for Earth Day that consider our precarious place in nature

From Mount Fuji to the Mexican border, a handful of photographers epto their connection with nature.

by Ryan White
22 April 2021, 6:00am

Today is Earth Day — a day observed around the world every year since 1970 that honours the environment and the concept of finding peace in our surroundings. More than just a token acknowledgement of the need for reform, at its inception Earth Day led to the passing of a number of landmark environmental laws in the US and, in 2016, it was chosen by the United Nations as the day that 122 countries would sign the Paris Agreement on.

Through the lens of a handful of photographers we’ve featured recently — some of whom contributed to our monthly photo submission series — we take a look at nature, our relationships to it, and how we often lose sight of its importance. From Mount Fuji to the Mexican border, Egypt to Atlanta, here is Earth Day in photos.

A nude woman chasing bubbles on a tatami floor, with a painted vista of pine trees and a cloudy mountain behind her
Model @kk_sinsoseek_, Hair and makeup artist @0.16____5_____

Anouk Brouwer, Tokyo, Japan

“Stuck in our own bubbles, in our own realities, dreams and personal interests; let us not forget our mother earth."

Two young boys play in the sand on the beach as the sun begins to set. Next to a wall creating a border between the United States and Mexico.”

Maureen Muse, Tijuana, Mexico

“Two young boys play in the sand on the beach as the sun begins to set. Next to a wall creating a border between the United States and Mexico.” 

A nude woman pouring water from a jar into a lake.

Denisse Ariana Pérez, Barcelona, Spain

"I think this image invites for a more profound dialogue with nature, a give and take, a mutual nurturing, a reciprocal replenishing."

A nude person in a snowy forest clearing

Lin Zhipeng (aka.223), Beijing, China

“Free jump in a snow field in Beijing. We say everywhere is dangerous on earth, but danger is always wonderful. Be closer to the earth, feel it, love it.”

two holding hands

Wale Adebisi, Lagos, Nigeria

“Measures of yet undiscovered wonders of beauty, as we sojourn through her like a maze of stunning perplexity we are reminded the big and little things our mother conceives.” (Written by Onyinye Akabogu)

Perso wearing a mesh bandeau top in a field of flowers

Marie Tomanova, New York, USA

“Photographing Isabel by the East River at the beginning of summer last year meant everything to me. Being able to get out of the closed spaces we were locked in for so long, feeling fresh air, smelling flowers, touching green grass and hearing birds chirp. It was a moment of reconnecting with the outside world and feeling alive.”

Person in a denim jacket with reeds blowing in the background

Sarah Berglund, Toronto, Canada

“A while ago, my friend Atticus and I got up at 6am and took the subway to the end of the line to sit at the beach and watch the sunrise. As we were leaving, I noticed how brightly his image was reflected in the colours of the landscape. I stopped him to take this photo and then we kept walking. Living in the city, the little adventures we take to seek out in nature can show us we're more connected to it than we sometimes feel.”

A black-and-white photo of a white-haired lady holding a flower to her eye.

Lucas Nakazato, Campo Grande, Brazil

“A dreamer who survives in a pandemic crisis.”  

a man's back looking out over a lake towards mout fuji at night

Hiro Kawada, Lake Yamanakako, Japan

“Living in Tokyo in the pandemic is truly stressful. So, my friends and I escaped from the city to Lake Yamanakako and Mount Fuji to feel nature and Mother Earth.”

A hand picking a tangerine from a tree

Salma Olama, Cairo, Egypt

“I caught this photo of my mom picking a tangerine from a tree in our back garden. The tangerines grow out once a year in the winter and this year they were particularly bitter — but we were still very excited.”

A topless man stood in front of a house.

Mark Anthony Brown Jr., Atlanta, USA

“It’s important to understand how much we depend on the earth and its resources vs how much the earth depends on us; moments of solitude with the source can lend perspective on how much it truly provides for us.”

A woman in a white gauze dress stood in the sea

Tamara Chapman, New York, USA

“Prior to making this image, I knew there was something missing in my work that I couldn’t identify at the moment. As a homebody, the pandemic has helped me to understand the luxuries that come with spending time outdoors and experiencing nature, especially when making images. This is Kitty, who encouraged me to photograph the spaces around me because the beauty of landscapes is something I take for granted. After making this image I’ve really started to connect with my surroundings beyond my bedroom walls.”

A black-and-white photo of a man looking over a flat farm with a pylon in the centre of the frame

Omar Osman, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“It is of great importance to recognise that social justice and environmental justice are intertwined. Marginalised communities and socially excluded groups do not have access to the same resources and socio-economic status that privileged communities possess. Exploring and dismantling systems of oppression and centring voices of those most impacted by environmental harm is essential when it comes to fighting the climate crisis. Every day, our planet is increasing its calls for our help. Although we’ve made some steps, there is still so much left to be done.”

Two topless, durag-wearing men lying down in a field of wildflowers

Jonathan George, New York, USA

“Love in all forms is ethereal and natural, and capturing that softness and intimacy in the beauty of nature is something that is important to document, especially in regards to Black Queer love.”

A topless cap-wearing man on a sandy beach

Tom Kneller, New York, USA

“Logan at Long beach. We truly are tied to the ocean. We must take care of it, because it is us.”

Two people on a beach at low-tide at dusk. One rides a bike, the other walks.

Joshua Kinsella, Hastings, UK

"This spot has always brought me peace and calm. To me, the sea is one of the most beautiful elements of nature. I often find myself by the waterfront when I need to clear my mind and reconnect with myself and the world around me."

A topless man with earring emerging from shadow into sunlight

Gili Benita, New York, USA

“On cold and short winter days, when the warm sunlight becomes a rare occasion, it receives a new meaning. It gives us the chance to reconnect with the earth and the sun even we are alone at home. This portrait of Daniel Levi, a Brooklyn-based fashion designer, was photographed during one of those cold winter days in his apartment in Brooklyn.”

Two people looking over a smoggy vista.

Ashlee D, California, USA

“The thick grey clouds above came from the wildfires a couple cities down. To this day I find this image haunting. In this moment, it dawned on me that nature can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and I have no control over it.”

A man climbing a rocky waterfall

Clark Hodgin, North Carolina, USA

“To exist in nature is to embrace a certain level of disconnect — stepping away from society in search of a deep breath. Only when we leave behind our shoes and sidewalks can we truly feel the cool wet rock beneath our feet.”


All images courtesy of the artists.