Slovenian photo maker, winner last year A decade of change, emphasizes the importance of solutions-based collaborative environmental imaging
As someone who grew up at the foot of the Slovenian Alps, Cyril Jazbek has always felt a close connection to nature. While in primary school he discovered the Darkroom Lab, an early exposure to image-making that eventually led him to study for an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communications. “I started documentary photography while in London, in part because of my love of storytelling,” he says. A decade later, Jazbec has traveled across multiple continents, documenting human responses to both natural and man-made environments.
Jazbec’s was one of the winning photographs of 1854 Media’s change contract 2020. He is also the winner of the 2013 award Leica Oscar Barnack Award And the 2021 Global Photojournalism Prize. He wants his photography not only to prove climate change, but to “go beyond the surface” and find hope. Climate resilience, a term that Gazbek uses in all of his projects, refers to a science-led approach to climate imaging, one in which innovation, development and optimism are center stage. One collection, for example, documents the artificial glaciers used in the Himalayas – a device invented by Sonam Wangchuck, a local engineer in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. The glaciers — called “horoscopes” after their resemblance to Buddhist religious relics — store meltwater in winter from the mountains, then slowly release it in the spring when they need it most.
With the help of low-energy, high-yield artificial ice, surrounding communities have year-round access to fresh water. Jazbec’s photographs show the benefits of artificial ice towers, as well as the joy and cultural significance they brought to the Ladakh region. These “amazing moments of life” demonstrate resilience in the face of climate change, something he hopes will be felt globally. “Reality can be brutal, and people are used to bad news,” he says. “I want to show the effect this kind of ingenuity has in the real world and the amazing resilience of the human spirit.