Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

Capturing Climate Change: Andrei Duman's Visual Representation of Lake Powell's Devastating Transformation

The effects of climate change are hard to ignore; unpredictable catastrophic weather events, routine raging wildfires, and prolonged periods of drought, to name a few. Thinking about these changes and the way climate change will affect our lives can be overwhelming, but photographer Andrei Duman feels that it’s too important to turn a blind eye. This inspired him to create a project that would highlight the issues in a simple yet powerful way.

Traveling to Lake Powell, he set out to capture the depleting water levels of the reservoirs, which he had noticed getting lower and lower each time he visited the area. He went into the project with a few different ideas as to how to visually demonstrate the extent of the problem in an impactful yet digestible way, however as with most projects, there were limitations presented to him that he had to solve. Using his creativity and technical expertise, Andrei produced a stunning visual representation of the effects of climate change on our environment. Read on to learn more.

What inspired this project?

My personal projects are quite varied in terms of topic and subject. Sometimes I am photographing microscopic insects and sometimes I am photographing macroscopic things in space. Whatever I’m shooting personally, I want it to make an impact on the viewer. For this Lake Powell project, I noticed with my own eyes how much the water levels had gone down over a period of time. So I started thinking, how can I do something with photography to show the changes? I partnered with two departments within the Utah Department of Natural Resources who noted that no one had tried to do anything to document this in a creative and unique way, so I was excited to be able to create this project.

How did the creative ideation evolve into the final images?

I wanted to make a single image that told the entire story. So, I initially wanted to do this using a drone and shooting it all in camera with laser projection to show the water lines, but I wasn’t able to do that per Utah conservation laws, so instead, I was driven around in a boat with a local sheriff. Over a two-day period they took me to any spots on the lake that I initially researched, as well a those they knew would fit the specifications of the rock face I was looking for. Then I knew that in post-production, I would need to add in the lines. I shot this during the day but I thought that the lines popped more with a darker background so I also edited the images in post to look like it was nighttime. I ended up with probably 2500 images and then ended up choosing 4 that communicated my idea as clearly and effectively as possible.

Does the Utah Department of Natural Resources plan to use these in any way?

Yes, they really love the project. They were generous enough to speak to the project, which I’ll share with you.

It seems like the entire project was a memorable experience, but does any one moment stand out to you?

It was very cool to be taken around by the sheriffs. They know the lake so well and could take me to every corner and to some of their favorite spots that aren’t well known. In a way, it felt like we had the whole lake to ourselves. I loved learning from the people that live there and truly understand the land and in turn, understand the dire situation we are in. The collaboration aspect was one of my favorite parts of the project. 

This also reinforced the notion that we as humans have to change our behavior. There is a lack of awareness among some on how much our behavior impacts the environment and how much that will change our lives in the upcoming decades. I’m proud of this project to be able to show, in one image, the massive impact we are having. I hope that it inspires people to think about their habits and make one change for the better. 


Andrei's Lake Powell project was featured on petapixel.com, link here to read. Thank you PetaPixel!