Return to Peru

The last time I was on a flight to Lima was in 2000. I spent a month on the Amazon River living aboard a research vessel named “La Nutria” with Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Richard Bodmer and his team. They were conducting a survey of the varying densities of animals on “restingas” - seasonal forest islands created by flood waters, and I was documenting the expedition. I had just been accepted to graduate school at the University of Florida and taking advantage of a summer opportunity to build my photography portfolio. Looking back now, these first Peru photographs were in many ways the basis of my career. They gave my portfolio the substance that led Francisco Dallmeier to include me on the first Smithsonian Institution expeditions to Gabon, and six expeditions to follow. It’s this Smithsonian connection that’s taking me back to Peru nine years later. Perhaps more importantly, however, is the philosophy for my ensuing career that my first Peruvian experience represents. By embedding myself with scientists in the field, I was using my camera to tell the story of the places and people on the front lines of conservation. In Gabon, Mali, the Bahamas, and Florida the same recipe has applied. I wrote a thesis titled Conservation Photography exploring the use of photography for conservation and at the same time, through the leadership of Cristina Mittermeier, the modern Conservation Photography movement was being born.As I return to Peru this time, thanks to nearly a decade of experience and a new field lending credit to my pursuits, my purpose is even clearer than the first time. My challenge is now is to make sure my art has evolved as much as the philosophy behind it.View new photography at www.carltonward.com