From the outset, a central theme of my work has been the contrasts between the industrialized and natural landscape. The primary focus of my early work was forests and the impacts of industrial logging. As my understanding of ecological issues has grown, so has the range of my photographic subjects. My recent work has been largely focused on the world of modern fossil fuel production and its associated impacts on the landscape. Recent projects have addressed mountaintop removal coal mining, shale gas production, and the Alberta Tar Sands.
My work has appeared in leading editorial publications including, Time, GEO,The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, The Guardian, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Esquire, and many others. I have been invited to address major corporations and government bodies on the issues of conservation and sustainability. These include The New York Times, NTT, GTE, Kimberley Clarke, the GEO Foundation, the Canadian Senate, and the European Parliament. My recent TED talk on my traveling exhibit – The True Cost of Oil – has received over 800,000 viewings to date.
I have received awards for my work from the Prix de la Photographie Paris, the International Photography Awards, and Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
My exhibits from the Alberta Tar Sands have been featured in the G2 Gallery in Los Angeles, the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, at the Aperture Foundation Gallery in New York as part of the “What Matters Now” exhibit, in 2012, at the Tippetts Gallery at Utah State University, and at the Galt Museum in Alberta. Other works have been exhibited recently at the Center for Fine Art Photography, at the British Columbia Art Council, in the Capital building in Washington D.C., at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, at the Annenberg Space for Photography, and at the Natural History Museum in London.
In 2008 I was designated a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, one of only 60 photographers in the world to receive this honor. - Garth Lenz
Images are from Lenz' True Cost of Oil Project.
Reflected Sky in Tailings Pond. Alberta Tar Sands
Disguised by the beauty of a reflection, nearly a dozen of these toxic tailings ponds lie on either side of the Athabasca River. Individual ponds can range in size up to 8850 acres.
Rouge Mountains. Mackenzie Valley, NWT.
The Mackenzie Valley is the world’s third largest watershed basin. Only the Amazon and Mississippi are larger, but of these, only the Mackenzie is virtually entirely intact. Proposals to build the 800 mile Mackenzie Valley Pipeline to bring natural gas from the Beaufort Sea to the Tar Sands would open this remote region to a variety of potential industrial development.
MacKay River, Boreal Forest, and Tar Mine. Alberta
The boreal forests and wetlands that surround the Tar Sands are the most carbon rich terrestrial ecosystem on the planet, holding almost twice as much carbon as tropical rainforests. Referred to by the tar sands industry as "overburden," these forests are scraped off and the wetlands dredged, to be replaced by tar mines like this.
Crossroads. Alberta Tar Sands 2005.
A relatively small section of a massive mine encroaches on the boreal forest. With the five fold proposed expansion of the tar sands, within as little as two decades an area the size of Florida will be industrialized.
Tombstone Valley. Yukon Territory 2005.
At the border where the Boreal, or Taiga, meets the treeless Tundra, this valley is the wintering ground for the Porcupine Caribou Herd whose breeding and calving ground is the Arctic Nation Wildlife Refuge.