Award-winning documentary photographer and Olympus Ambassador Jasper Wilkins shares his passion for our planet and how Olympus and his photography are taking action for change, one step at a time.
We all know at least a little about the causes and effects of global warning, our carbon footprint and its rippling results on communities around the world. But while most of us watch from a distance, listen to the news and do baby steps to making our lives ‘greener’, few of us actually take action to make impactful change. What can one person do when the problems are so huge? Well, Olympus ambassador Jasper Wilkins is set to show us. Olympus and Jasper have joined forces to show exactly what positive benefits one person’s photography can have on communities and conservation.
“The environment is vital to our very existence, yet we are destroying it at an alarming rate,” exclaims Jasper. “Having seen the diverse natural beauty this world has to offer, and developing an understanding of what humans are doing to the environment, I find it hard now not to try and visually communicate the reality of the situation,” he adds. Since documenting homelessness with his first camera aged 15, Jasper has known the impact of photography and has used his Olympus OM-D cameras as tools to document and share these harsh truths online, in books and magazines.
It was Jasper’s first trip to document Ethiopian culture in 2013 that changed his perception of the world and focused his work. His collection of black & white photographs based around water access were published countless times in magazines and online, not to forget winning him the Olympus Student Photography award.
Since then, the now 23-year-old photojournalist has dedicated his career to documenting environmental and humanitarian issues across Japan, Ethiopia, America and Thailand, as well as covering events and rallies at-home in the UK.
His most recent work has taken him to the epicentre of Nepal’s 2015 earthquake, Gorkha, where he’s working in the Namjung community with Raleigh and International Citizen Service to create livelihood opportunities for those devastated by the disaster. “I’m working on a project to promote the importance of the environment, focusing on the stories of the people affected by the earthquake. I’m hoping the images will develop into a book and exhibition, and eventually lead to me doing similar work in the Tuvalu Islands, the Amazon and Thailand,” he explains.
Jasper uses the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II to document different cultures and, while he’s had great success with the OM-D E-M1 over the years, he considers the E-M1 Mark II a superb and welcomed upgrade. “I love using Olympus kit: it’s lightweight, user-friendly and has great durability – not to forget impressive image quality. While trying to capture ‘decisive moments’, I need an easily accessible interface with solid manual controls and a camera that offers a high frame-per-second shooting rate – the OM-D E-M1 II does all that.”
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 II features a blazing dual quad-core processor capable of capturing 60fps in burst mode, impressive 4K/UHD video, one of the market’s most advanced autofocus systems with 121 AF points, and a five-axis body-integral image stabilisation, which Jaspers adds proves to be invaluable when shooting in low light.
Jasper uses his OM-D E-M1 II paired with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens for detailed portraits and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro as his all-purpose lens. The weather-sealed 12-100mm f/4 offers fast and quiet AF as well as a superb two-axis image stabilisation system, making it perfect for discreet portraits as well as handheld landscapes and filming, all of which Jasper has to do well. It’s the perfect versatile documentary lens and Jasper’s go-to piece of kit for most situations.
One of Jasper’s largest projects started at the end of 2016 and aims to offer creatives such as photographers, filmmakers and illustrators a platform to share important stories about environmental sustainability. With collaborators from Saudi Arabia, Tuvalu Islands, England, Canada, America, Estonia and India already involved, the hopes for this new global organisation, called In Focus, is to align with organisations such as the United Nations, Ecosia and National Geographic. “Without photography or film, we wouldn’t connect with stories around the world, or connect viewers with the causes to instigate change,” says Jasper. “Visual communication is a powerful tool for sharing inspiring stories of hope and beauty from around the world and to promote the importance of environmental conservation. We live on such a diverse planet, I hope we start protecting it.”
Article featured in Digital SLR Photography Magazine in June 2017