Western Digital Creative Masters
Colin Finlay is a world-renowned photojournalist and environmental activist. For more than seventeen years, Finlay has documented the human condition with compassion, empathy and dignity. He has covered war and conflict, disappearing traditions, the environment in both its glory and its devastation, genocide, famine, religious pilgrimage and global cultures. In pursuit of his passion, he has circled the globe twenty-seven times, in search of that one photo that will be a testament to the depth of human will and compassion, of hope and of an informed collective consciousness. He is a six-time Picture of the Year winner. Finlay’s images appear in dozens of publications, including: Newsweek, Time, Life, Vanity Fair and U.S. News & World Report. His books include: The Unheard Voice: Portraits of Childhood; Testify; Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan; and 12°N x 23°E, 64°S x 60°E, a photo essay that features the contrast between photographs taken in Sudan and Antarctica.
One of Finlay’s most recent projects included a trip to California’s Salton Sea. The Salton Sea was a freshwater lake back in the 1920s, but by the '70s, salinity began to rise due to the salt-heavy soil from the desert. There was also toxic run-off and industrial waste from Mexicali and pesticides from the nearby Imperial Valley agriculture fields. The factors combined to create a poisonous stew brewing in the Salton Sea, which resulted in the death of millions of birds and fish. The sea became 25 percent saltier than the ocean, and then it rose, swallowing up homes and businesses in its peculiar, rust-colored water. As the Salton Sea dries up the toxins are becoming air borne and blowing into populated areas. Finlay views the environmental disaster taking place in and around the Salton Sea as one of the worst in the world. Over the course of this photography and film project Finlay scaled toxic mountains, faced the possibility of arrest, and physically endangered himself to capture the remarkable images to integral to telling the story. His photojournalism is silent activism in breathtaking vividness.
Of his inspiration Finlay has said, “I’m working to connect dots, how each piece relates to other places. What happens when the temperature rises by six degrees, affecting the South Sudan and the Sahel desert? I’m putting a human face on what’s happening with our climate. It’s not just landscapes and beautiful natural stuff — the human element is there too. The important thing is to realize that all of us are in this together. So how do we make a difference?”