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Earth Now: American Photographers and the Environment

Katherine Ware

Since its invention, photography has been used to document and interpret the landscape. Survey photographers in the 1860s were the first environmental advocates, arguing for the U.S. national park system. During the first half of the twentieth century photographers Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter were central figures in influencing American attitudes toward wilderness and conservation. This book traces the development of environmental photography beginning with Adams, Porter, and others, and the next generation of landscape photographers—Robert Adams, Richard Misrach, Robert Glenn Ketchum, Patrick Nagatani, and Mark Klett—whose works confronted the issues of landscape and the environment in less idealized terms. Shifting from the historical framework, the book presents new work by twenty-three photographers working in the United States, the next wave of artists using the camera to engage the environmental issues of the day. Works by Michael Berman, Subhankar Banerjee, Joann Brennan, Dornith Doherty, Greg Mac Gregor, Christina Seely, Sharon Stewart, and others are among the ninety-one black-and-white and color images presented, many being published for the first time. Ranging from documentary to conceptual, the photographs touch on topics such as land and water use, the human place in the landscape, mounting consumer waste, industrial pollution, roof gardens and the green roof initiative, local food production, energy consumption, and the effects of industry on humans and animals. Katherine Ware's text offers insightful commentary on photography and the ways that environmental issues have been framed and advanced through the medium of photography. This is a powerful commentary on global environmental issues as seen through the lens of the newest wave of environmental photographers.


Katherine Ware is a curator of photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art and has written monographs on photographers Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Harry Callahan. She is the coauthor of Dreaming in Black and White: Photography at the Julien Levy Gallery and is a widely published essayist on photography.


“Leads the reader on an illustrated journey starting with the literal work of the survey photographers of the 1860s and the romantic idealism of Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter, and moving on to include other well-known landscape photographers such as Robert Adams, Richard Misrach, and Mark Klett. But the most interesting insights and examinations Earth Now offers surround the eclectic mix of contemporary artists who apply everything from documentary to conceptual art in their efforts to deal with topics like water and land use, food, waste, pollution, energy, industry, animals, and humans’ place in the landscape.”


Orion Magazine

“A collection of important works by American photographers that tell the story of Mother Earth, from man’s less than gentle influence, to his attempt to repair the damages. The pictures stimulate (us) to think about (our) personal relationship to the environment and to consider the impact of the choices we make as a society and as individuals.”


“Ware’s book is a valuable historical look at photographers who have explored, and in some cases, have advocated for the environment. . . . This survey is certainly not limited to the Southwest or even the American West.”


Albuquerque Journal

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press/Published in association with the New Mexico Museum of Art

11 x 10 in. 188 pages 25 duotone and 66 color plates