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Ben Depp: Tide Lines

Mayflies, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana 2021

Opening Reception: Saturday, Dec 9th, 6pm – 8pm
New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery
7800 Oak Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Gallery: 504-919-4510,

Artist statement: 

This collection of photographs and artist statement are excerpted from my recently published book, Tide Lines: A Photographic Record of Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast, (2023. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi). I have spent nine years photographing the beauty, complexity, and destruction of South Louisiana from a powered paraglider. Once formed by sediment deposited by the Mississippi River, Louisiana is now rapidly eroding. Over the past eighty years, our coast has lost two thousand square miles of wetlands in its transition back to open water.

I first saw this surreal and beautiful landscape from above on a commercial airline flight and wondered if I could tell the story of coastal erosion in a new way through aerial photographs. I learned to fly a powered paraglider. After exploring accessible parts of the coast for several years, I built a wooden sailboat to access Louisiana’s remote barrier islands.

With my powered paraglider, I can fly between ten and five thousand feet above the ground. I spend hours in the air, camera in hand, waiting for the brief moments: when the first rays of sunlight mix with cool predawn light and illuminate forms in the grass or when evening light sculpts fragments of marsh and the geometric patterns of human enterprise—canals, oil platforms, pipelines, and roads. My photographs show the weather and seasonal changes like the shifting high-water line, color temperature, and softness of light. A careful observer will notice coastal flora and distinguish living cypress trees from those that have been killed by saltwater intrusion or see the patterns made by wave energy on barrier island beaches.

This intimate view of Louisiana from a birds-eye perspective prompts me—and I hope, others—to see and understand its landscape in new ways and to reexamine my relationship to the environment that surrounds me.

—Ben Depp

Artist Bio

Ben Depp is an artist and National Geographic Explorer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Much of Ben’s work has centered around environmental issues and his environmental photography has been funded by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, the Ford Foundation, and the National Geographic Society.

In 2014, Depp began making aerial images by powered paraglider, which allows for hours of exploration, a low flight path and the time-intensive search for surprising compositions. He learned to pilot a powered paraglider for his ongoing work documenting wetland loss and coastal erosion in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. This work has been shown at A Gallery for Fine Photography, Claire Elizabeth Gallery, Ann Connelly Fine Art, the Louisiana State Museum, and twice at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The project was a 2017 Communication Arts Annual winner, and was published by Smithsonian Magazine, the Sierra Club, Audubon, Scientific American, Photography Forum and National Geographic. 

Depp completed an artist-in-residence at Court 13 Arts, where he built a wood sailboat to replace the worn antique wood boat he used to access remote parts of South Louisiana which are too remote to fly to. 

Exhibition List 

  • Tide Lines, New Orleans Photo Alliance, solo exhibition, 2023
  • Ben Depp, Walter Anderson Museum, solo exhibition, 2023
  • Ben Depp and Mia Kaplan, Ann Connelly Gallery, group exhibition, 2023
  • Knowing Who We Are, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, group exhibition, 2023
  • Tide Lines, Claire Elizabeth Gallery, solo exhibition, 2023
  • Louisiana Contemporary, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, group exhibition, 2022
  • Imaginal Stage, A Gallery for Fine Photography, solo exhibition, 2022
  • Tide Lines, Southeast Center for Photography, solo exhibition, 2021 
  • Louisiana Contemporary, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, group exhibition, 2019 
  • Louisiana from Above, Louisiana State Museum, solo show, 2019
  • Tide Lines, A Gallery for Fine Photography, solo show, 2018
  • Currents, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, group exhibition, 2017
  • Bayou’s End, A Gallery for Fine Photography, solo show, 2017
  • Canadian Museum for Human Rights, group exhibition, 2013
  • NIU Anthropology Museum, group exhibition, 2013
  • BD Photography Award, Look 3 Festival of the Photograph, group exhibition, 2011


  • Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans