Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography 2019 Finalist Ben Depp Tide Lines

The landscape of southern Louisiana is rapidly changing. Today, the wetlands on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast are eroding at the rate of a football field every 30 minutes. For three years, I have been flying above the bayous and wetlands of southern Louisiana in a powered paraglider photographing visual clues that tell the story of this landscape's destruction. My goal is to make photographs that serve as a memorial to this vanishing otherworldly environment.

With a powered paraglider, I can fly between ten and two thousand feet above the ground. I spend hours in the air, digital camera in hand, waiting for the brief moments when the first warm rays of sunlight mix with cool predawn light and illuminate strange shapes in the marsh grass or when the light sculpts a dead tree laying on the water at sunset. I look for the spaces where the geometric patterns of human enterprise - canals, oil platforms, pipelines and roads - collide with nature's organic forms.

About Ben Depp

Ben Depp is an independent documentary photographer and National Geographic Society Explorer available for editorial, corporate, and reportage assignments.

Ben has worked as a freelance photographer since 2005 covering general news, producing feature stories, and doing investigative journalism all over the world. Much of Ben’s work has centered around environmental issues and his environmental reporting has been funded by the National Geographic Society, Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, and Ford Foundation.

Editorial clients include National Geographic News, Rolling Stone, Outside Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Der Spiegel among others.

Corporate and non-profit clients include Samsung, NBA Entertainment, Oracle, The Humane Society, The Master Card Foundation, The Whole Planet Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, Red Cross, The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and Mercy Corps.

Congratulations to all of the Finalists in the 2019 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography