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News

TIME 100 images recognises Brent Stirton and Michael Nichols

TIME 100 images recognises Brent Stirton and Michael Nichols

© Michael Nichols/National Geographic

November 2016

Two of Canon’s most respected members of its Ambassadors programme – photojournalists Brent Stirton and Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols – have been recognised in the ‘TIME 100 photos’, a collection of the 100 most influential images ever taken. CPN Editor David Corfield reports...

Canon Ambassador Brent Stirton and Canon Master Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols have long advocated the power of stills photography to raise awareness of issues affecting the natural world, and speaking on his selected image of a dead silverback gorilla being carried from the Congo, Brent Stirton said: “Firstly, it’s obviously an honour and I’m grateful. Secondly, I think it’s an impossible job to choose 100 images on this theme. There will always be subjectivity and I can personally think of many images that could have been included. At a time when Trump ascends to the White House and the environment seems so massively under threat, I’m grateful TIME included conservation images. It seems to me that we need to care more about our world in its entirety than ever before. We are all deeply connected by our singular home planet; anyone who chooses to ignore that and pursue divisiveness has no business in global leadership.”

© Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek
© Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek

The resulting impact of Stirton’s image was profound. The gorilla (a large male called Senkwekwe) had been murdered along with five other members of his troop while the park was under siege by people illegally harvesting wood for a burgeoning charcoal industry. Three months after it was taken and published in Newsweek magazine, nine African countries (including the Democratic Republic of Congo) signed a legally binding treaty to help protect the mountain gorillas in Virunga.
Taken on a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM lens at 16mm; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/4, ISO 50.

Echoing Brent Stirton’s sentiments, Michael Nichols, on speaking of his chosen image of surfing hippos, said: “Considering where we are with politics these days and the discussion that we may need Mars as a second home... the noting by the team at TIME of my image and Brent’s gorilla point to the very real realisation that our planet is finite and what makes it whole must be protected. This is a wonderful personal honour, including my mentor civil rights photographer Charles Moore and so many images that I personally grew up with, that points to the fact that, in this time of instant gratification, stills photography continues to have the power to make us stop and think and just maybe change.”

Nichol’s image, of hippos using the Atlantic current to travel down the coast to feed on grass at night, was pivotal in drawing attention to the need to preserve their areas of habitat. Gabon President Omar Bongo, seeing the image for the first time in a New York City hotel, was so inspired that he immediately gave the order to create a series of national parks that now cover 11 percent of the country.

Speaking on the project, its editors (Ben Goldberger, Paul Moakley and Kira Pollack) commented: ‘The best photography is a form of bearing witness, a way of bringing a single vision to the larger world.’ You can discover the complete list of TIME’s 100 most influential photographs here.