Award-winning documentary photographer Esther Horvath raises awareness about climate change, conservation, and environmental justice through her work. A fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers, a member of The Explorers Club, and a photographer for the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Esther’s work focuses on the polar regions and telling the stories of the scientists working there, and their research.
In November 2022, Esther will be a mentor at the NOOR Visualising Climate Crisis Intensive Workshop for photographers from Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland. The open call for applicants for this tution-free workshop is being held on Picter now through October 27, 2022.
We caught up with Esther about the workshop and what keeps her motivated to keep documenting climate change.
What are you looking forward to in the Visualising Climate Crisis Intensive Workshop?
I’m looking forward to connecting with photographers from these countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland). In every single workshop I’ve taught at it’s not only about me teaching or mentoring, I always learn a lot. In this workshop, I know I am going to learn about environmental issues from those specific countries, and I’m very curious about which topics the participants will bring and want to work on. I’m also looking forward to the mentoring part when they develop their project. This is something I really, really enjoy doing. I have done a lot of mentorships and it’s so special to follow someone’s work and develop it together and give feedback, and to finally bring it to the stage where it is ready to exhibit.
I’m also really looking forward to working with Kadir van Lohuizen. I think this workshop will be extremely intense. I know that at other NOOR workshops people are exhausted in a beautiful way at the end of the workshop. I’m looking forward to this intensity.
Have you used Picter Before?
Yes, I use it very often. I often use it for judging—I did the judging for World Press Photo on Picter and I used Picter when I submitted my own photographs for World Press. I find it very easy to use. When I judge with another tool I always think: Picter is so much better!
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
Through my work I focus on climate change but with a very specific angle, which is that I work with scientists in the polar regions. Together with these scientists I want to raise awareness about climate change and all that is happening in the polar regions.
Of course we know that the Arctic ocean sea ice is melting. In August a new paper came out in Nature by the Finish Meteorological Institute saying that the average temperature has increased by 4 times since they started taking the measurement forty years ago. So, we have this data but who are the scientists, who are the people who have dedicated their lives to these long term measurements and how do they work in these remote locations? My stories look at these questions through a very specific angle—through the scientist—their research story, how they research, what that looks like, and what the landscape looks like.
How do you stay motivated documenting climate change when the forecast looks so bleak?
It motivates me even more to make stories on climate change. With this topic, I want to do more to bring change to people’s minds and daily behavior. Last year, I had the opportunity to exhibit my project “Polar Night” at COP26 in Glasgow, which was an important experience for me to be there where politicians and decision makers sit.
Sometimes I feel like a horse with a blind: I just keep going and I just keep doing my work because I fear it’s the only thing I can do. My new project is not only focused on climate change but also focusing on women and highlighting women in climate research. I feel that women in many fields are still not equal, so I have even more work to do now with this topic.
Being that you photograph in the polar regions, other than your camera, what is the most important piece of gear that you need to take with you?
All the wool—I have a very good set of wool clothing from socks, underwear, to all the other layers. I would also say my super good thermos. I have a really special one that keeps drinks hot for a very long time. When you’re out in the field for hours and hours, its very nice to still have a hot tea with you.
This Interview has been edited for length and clarity.