What We Stand to Lose: Mountain Glaciers in a Warming World

Project Images

Gallery Overview

Individual Images

Image 1
Purity (Norway, 2022)

Image 2
Raw Ingredients (Sweden, 2022)

Image 3
Ephemeral Dragon (Iceland, 2021)

Image 4
To Catch a Sunbeam (Argentina, 2023)

Image 5
Equatorial Ice (Ecuador, 2022)

Image 6
Accelerating Breakdown (Iceland, 2021)

Image 7
Brittle Flow (Argentina, 2023)

Image 8
Transition to Icefall (Ecuador, 2022)

Image 9
Scandinavian Noir (Sweden, 2022)

Image 10
Portal to Another World (Norway, 2022)

Image 11
A Cauldron of Aquamarine (Norway, 2022)

Image 12
The Weathermaker (Norway, 2022)

Project Description

I, like many people, have always found glaciers to be icons of all that is wild and beautiful about our planet. When I think of a glacier in the abstract, I envision a far-away mountain, standing bright at the very rim of the world, unapproachable and unsullied by the messiness of humanity, a wondrous place of myriad shapes and patterns and every possible permutation of blue. Sadly, the rapid, accelerating, and near ubiquitous melting of the world’s mountain glaciers shows just how much a fiction it is to think of glaciers as a place apart. Today I, like many people, equally see glaciers as icons of catastrophe as we march, seemingly helpless, toward the abyss of human-induced climate change. When I venture towards a glacier with my camera, I wish my work could simply be a celebration of their incomparable beauty. Unfortunately, given the plausibility that each of the places photographed here could be ice-free in just a few more generations, it is increasingly a lament for what we stand to lose in our steadily warming world.

Self Critique

I am a college professor who researches glacier change. While the project description above hints at the deep emotional pain that can accompany this work in a time of rapid climate change, it is the beauty of these places that keep me motivated to read one more paper, climb one more step, pursue one more analysis, and write one more word. While some of these images are from places that I have been fortunate to visit for my own enjoyment, several are from places where I conduct my work. What do I like about this project? That it gives me a chance to exercise the creative part of my brain while still pursuing the analytical questions that drive my work. What do I feel could be improved? I don’t think I have yet found a way to truly express the emotional impact of these places in a single photograph.

Creative Direction

My objective for this project is to spark a strong emotional response on the part of the viewer, one that mixes a sense of awe about the beauty of glaciers with a sense of foreboding about how close we are to destroying these places. From an artistic standpoint, I hope to convey something more than just, “wow, what a cool picture”. I want to convey what it is like to be there, to peer into a crevasse, to step across a frozen meltwater puddle, to gaze across the ice as the sun first clears the surrounding mountain ridge. More than anything else, I hope this project represents a unique vision rather than just faithful reproductions of others’ photographic styles. That’s the hard part, of course, and the part I’m least certain about.

Specific Feedback

I will submit this project to the 2023 NLPAs, the first time I have ever entered a photography contest. There are two more images in this collection than are permitted by the contest rules, so first and foremost, I’d appreciate hearing your opinion in which images to cut. Second, I’d appreciate feedback on the ordering of the images. I’ve tried to group these in pairs sharing some common aesthetic theme. Would you suggest ordering these any differently to achieve a stronger unified theme?

Intent of the project

Additional Details: NLPAs.


An amazing and very moving project. Every image resonates for me. To confine myself to your requests for critique, I’m not sure that the final photo works completely. Is it meant to suggest that the clouds are in part a cause of the melting of the glaciers? Or is it simply a sort of summation, as suggested by the title? I’m not sure. I also can’t see how it connects as a pair with the fantastic preceding shot, which I’d hate to have to remove! But maybe you’ll be forced to remove one of those three amazing close-ups to preserve the continuity of pairs. Tough choice. The other pairs are beautifully presented, and show how the effects are worldwide.

Thanks @Mike_Friel. I really appreciate your feedback. As far as “The Weathermaker” image, the clouds themselves aren’t meant to be any special message about what’s causing the melting. Rather, the image just shows how this small, at-risk, icecap in Norway can help create really interested clouds. If it were titled something different, would you see the image in a different way as a part of this collection? I think realistically I’ll have to choose between this one and “Equatorial Ice”, just to keep two B&Ws. As for the other image to exclude, I’d have an awfully hard time removing one of those three ice closeups. Maybe “To Catch a Sunbeam” since the light on the mountains would look interesting even if the ice weren’t there.

Anyway, thanks again!

I’d still remove no. 12, but see what others say, Jeff. “Equatorial Ice”, as you suggest for the second; you still have one from Ecuador. If you want 2 B and Ws after this, convert one of the others to B and W? Also when presenting them as an overview, would it be possible to pair them in 2 columns, 5 rows, as the pairs concept really works?

Dear Jeff, I’m sorry as my feedback comes a bit late for NLPA… but thought to write something anyway in case it helps.

Couldn’t agree more. Every image seems well thought of and definitely can stand on its own.

Regarding the series itself, I think there are several approaches one may take when building such a series.

The first is an approach of “varied uniformity”, i.e. variations on a certain theme. In this case, expanding on your two first abstract images, this means going with an abstract theme. I think 6,7,8,11 and possibly 10 might be good candidates for such a theme. By “good candidates” I’m referring to the selection you have, because one can take this theme more conservatively and build a series that comprises purely abstract images, or maybe even abstract bluish images, etc. (but that may result in a too-uniform series which might be boring). Anyway, the idea is to choose images which are consistent with a certain photographic theme. I think last year’s project of the year runner-up by Luís Afonso might be a good example to that approach.

The second approach is to vary the perspectives on a certain subject. For instance, going from details to a wider view. For instance from 2, to 1, to 11, to 7 etc. (or the other way around).

In any case, I wouldn’t include B&W images with color ones, as these are two completely different photographic styles.

I’m not sure this represents NLPA judges’ views in any way, but hope it still helps somehow. Good luck in the contest!