Interview with Luca Locatelli of Union of Concerned Photographers

WeTransfer launched the Union of Concerned Photographers, an international collective, kicking off with a presentation of work by leading environmental photographers whose work focuses on documenting and responding to the devastating effects of climate change.
The Leading contributors include Ami Vitale (US), Luca Locatelli (IT), Frans Lanting (NL), Mandy Barker (UK), and Joel Redman (ZA).

Luca Locatelli

We decided to interview the Italian photographer Luca Locatelli and to support WeTransfer initiative to bring out to our readers these topics such as global warming and renewable sources more and more relevant these days.

Q: Hi Luca, welcome to Pellicola! You are a documentary photographer and filmmaker, what else would you tell about your life to our readers?

Hi Simone, thanks for having me on here. As you probably know I live in Milan, Italy. I spend most of my time researching for new stories and inspirations, as well as putting together bodies of work.

Q: Tell us about how you discovered photography. Do you remember when you started taking pictures? When and why did you get into the documentary genre?

I approached photography at a later age than most of my colleagues. I was running an ICT company and I’ve changed my life when I was around 35. I started photographing as a way to express my interest towards the world and since I have always been passioned in technology and innovation, the interest for future solutions for environmental problems came naturally.

Q: How would you define your photographic style and what or who influences it?

I would define my photographic style as “documentary fine art photography”. I aim at telling stories and to trigger a discussion regarding the environmental crisis we are facing today while showcasing and documenting today’s innovations. At the same time, my photography is deeply influenced by narratives and iconic imagery of films and books, as well as the acceleration in development of technology and science.
What I find most interesting is that what has always been seen as sci-fi may become the most promising solution to the pressing issues of our planet.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Union of Concerned Photographers?

I believe the Union of Concerned Photographers gathers some of the world’s best documentarists and visual storytellers, committed to inform and inspire audiences about the difficult times our environment is going through. I am deeply honoured to be part of the Union and very excited to work among those incredible talents.

 Westland – the Dutch horticultural cluster and “Silicon Valley” for plant growing and green innovation.

Q: You talked about a double-edged role of technological progress, a danger and a real chance of salvation at the same time. How do you think it’s possible to find a balance in its development without damaging the environment?

 Totally. I am convinced that true development and progress must come at the least cost for our environment. Today we have amazing technologies at our disposal, some of which were unthinkable even a few years ago.
Everyday we hear of new promising breakthroughs that could allow us to turn our societies for the better. I believe that with these innovations, together with with intense political commitment from our governments and ourselves we can find this balance.

 Workers have been taking apart this Soviet-era nuclear power plant, near Greifswald in eastern Germany, since 1995, cleaning radioactive surfaces with steel grit so the metal can be recycled. Germany plans to shut all its reactors by 2022.

Q: Photography and videomaking are important tools to tell nowadays changings, but how can they reach all of us so to make even those who usually don’t feel concerned become aware?

That’s right. They are indeed important and powerful tools to narrate and inform, but at the same time I believe that we have the pressing need to find new ways to get these stories to more people. I am always exploring new innovative media to try to get to as much people as possible— my desire is to spark a discussion and thought in my audience, so that everyone can get their own ideas on the subject while getting informed on what is happening today in the world.

Q: What impressed you the most about the underway Dubai’s green transformation?

Dubai is certainly a striking city, where technology has been used profusely to allow the birth of this metropolis from the desert. I find very interesting that Dubai is aiming to become the greeenest city in the world by 2050. The huge investments in technology they’re doing are impressive and if Dubai wants to be green, then all the others cities in the world don’t have excuse.

Q: What’s your favourite project you worked on and why?

Working on different projects all relating to one big theme allows me to always explore new scenarios. This is why I don’t have a single favourite project, but more of a persisting commitment to narrate stories about our environment.

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects?

With my team we are always bustling with ideas, and we are always discussing new projects and stories. There’s lots in the pipelines—one of the themes I am about to further explore is the one of the cities of the future. Together with Dubai, I’ve covered London and Singapore, and we are currently trying to decide where to head next.­

 Renewables are booming, but Germany’s use of lignite, the dirtiest coal, hasn’t declined. At Vattenfall’s Welzow-Süd mine, some of the world’s largest machines claw 22 million tons a year from a 45-foot-thick seam. How long will that go on? “Very long, I hope,” said Jan Domann, a young engineer. “We have enough lignite.”
 Siemens Wind Power in Aalborg, Denmark where there's the biggest Blade production of the company. Siemens Wind Power is the global market leader for offshore wind turbines. In Denmark, in a unique, one-shot process, the company produces rotor blades that are up to 75 meters in length. It also manufactures the world’s largest serially-produced wind turbine, which has an output of 3.6 MW.
 Feldheim Green Village
The village of Feldheim, located in the town of Treuinbrietzen in eastern Germany's state of Brandenburg, supplies power and heat for its 145 inhabitants with entirely local renewable resources. Electricity is produced by modern wind farms and a photovoltaic solar energy park built on a former military base. A next generation accumulator is planned for a next stage of development to help balance the fluctuating wind supply. Heat is made by a biogas plant fueled by wood chips.

Financing of the renewable energy for Feldheim came from a pooled effort by the local energy consumers, the municipality, the local utility and additional support by regional government and EU funds. The effort has paid off. The town has zero unemployment, compared to 30% unemployment in other villages in the area, with most residents working for the town's renewable energy sector. Feldheim cites energy security, a positive image, stable energy prices, and protecting future generations from environmental damage as other positives that they are gaining from their 100% renewable energy choices.
 Do tomatoes grow best when bathed in LED light from above, beside, or some combination? Plant scientist Henk Kalkman is seeking the answer at the Delphy Improvement Centre in Bleiswijk. Collaboration between academics and entrepreneurs is a key driver of Dutch innovation.
 The Sustainable City, shown here, is the second mini green city and is located in the outskirts of Dubai. It is a 114­acre development that has 500 solar powered villas, 11 natural greenhouses and an organic farm. It also produces more energy than it consumes. These homes were designed to give shade to each other, thus cutting air conditioning by 40%.