An Interview with Award-Winning Nikon Photographer, Joseph Anthony

This August, The Haven by Jacada Travel – our new space in Hong Kong – introduces a photographic exhibition about Sri Lanka.

Finalist of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, award-winning photographer Joseph Anthony has recently been sent on a journey to Sri Lanka by Nikon.

Jacada Travel is bringing his work to a public stage for the first time, transporting you to Sri Lanka, an island of mesmerising beauty in both the landscape and wildlife.

With this exhibition, Joseph hopes to inspire his audience to protect all living things – not only for a love of nature, but also for the survival of our own species.

The Leopard. Image credit: Joseph Anthony.

We spoke to Joseph about the project and exhibition. He will attend the opening reception to share more of his Sri Lankan stories with guests.

As a former pilot and flight instructor, how did you change careers to become a photographer?

In 2008, my desire to take photography more seriously was ignited on a safari in South Africa – in particular, with my first sighting of leopard in the wild. I was mesmerised by what I was seeing in the wilderness, even though I had exposure to wild places from a young age. Yet it was 2013 when I started selling my work. My mindset is always ‘strive to improve’.

You have always promoted the beauty of wildlife and the need to protect it. When did you start to feel so strongly about this subject?

I’ve always been passionate about big cats. My work in photographing them taught me how hard it is for these animals to survive in the wild. Hence, when I visited the Cat Survival Trust for the first time, I was given a broad lesson in all things relating to climate change and how important apex predators such as big cats are to ecosystems.

The overriding message was saving apex predators and we save ourselves too. This message hit me square in the face. It is a story I resolve to keep telling in photographs.

How does your core message of this exhibition match Jacada Travel’s ethics?

Taking a mindful approach to life and photography is crucial to express my creative vision. Even if the pressure is on to get a shot, I will do my utmost to take an ethical approach, especially in wildlife photography. Integrity is very important in my life philosophy; I do not use baiting techniques and try not to stress the animals when I am photographing. I believe in minimal disturbance. Spending as much time as possible with the animals to learn its behaviour is the first step towards informing my creative vision.

Jacada Travel has some very clearly stated ethical and conservation-related goals which align with my philosophy of minimal impact on the environment. I hope to help raise awareness and spread important messages to as wide an audience as possible through the powerful medium of photography. At the core of this exhibition, I am trying to show the wonderful diversity that exists in a destination such as Sri Lanka, and the genuine love Sri Lankans show their wildlife and nature.

Can you tell us more about the Sri Lanka project with Nikon?

I was approached to do a lens feature initially. I told them that if I only had one lens to choose for wildlife photography it would be a 70-200mm – Nikon had just released a new version of that lens. They decided to escalate the lens feature to an assignment in Sri Lanka to include having a film made about my journey along the way, to show the possibilities of using just one new lens on wildlife and travel journeys.

One of the key ideas I had was to create photographs conveying a strong sense of place. I wanted to bring back images that could be instantly recognisable as being from Sri Lanka while still trying to put my own unique twist on them.

Can you pick two of your favourite works from the exhibition and tell us more about them? 

The Leopard – The leopard was a key endemic species I sought to photograph and I knew if I got the right shot it would potentially be a key visual for the brand campaign. This large female was spotted sitting in an iconic tree. This helped to create a strong sense of place. However, she was some distance away and even though the sighting lasted two hours, I ended up with only about 10 minutes of shooting time.

Wet Market Fishmonger – On the first day of shooting, I was taken to Galle market. Since I was with a film crew we attracted a lot of attention. Local Sri Lankan people love to smile and engaged with us quickly. I wanted to find a situation where I could capture this infectious enthusiasm in a photograph. The fishmonger was in the best position for natural lighting. The details around him gave a hint of the environment as well.

Wet Market Fishmonger. Image credit: Joseph Anthony.

Are there any particular goals that you would like to achieve through this exhibition?

I have curated this exhibition carefully in order to try to tell a flowing story of Sri Lankans, places and wildlife via wall prints, my new book and a projector slideshow. Sri Lanka is a place with plenty to offer – the sumptuous seafood, the varieties of land and sea life, gorgeous landscapes, the history, culture and the people. I want visitors to feel immersed as if they are actually there in Sri Lanka, hoping they will fall in love with this beautiful island as much as I did. Eventually, they will hopefully take a trip there and experience it all for themselves.

City to Wilderness | Sri Lanka

Opening Reception:

3rd Aug 2017, 6:30pm
RSVP: [email protected]

Exhibition Details:

1st – 30th Aug 2017
Mon-Fri, 10am-7pm
Free entrance, by appointment only.

The Haven by Jacada Travel
29/F Wyndham Place, 40-44 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2110 0537 / [email protected]