Camilo Ramirez is one of the 50 best emerging photographers for 2015, as voted by the eight-member international jury for the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2015. Here is his winning entry and artist’s statement. View his profile to learn more about him and to see more of his great work.

This work explores the entire length of the U.S. Gulf Coast and the way its varied history, economics, environment and culture intertwine to reveal a simultaneous reverence and abuse of its natural resources.

As I photographed along the southern edge of the Gulf Coast states most affected by the oil spill during the BP oil spill of 2010, I saw the contradictions in the economic, environmental and social landscape of the area as it coped with the negative impact of events created by an industry on which it depends. At the height of the disaster, I photographed the region that the U.S. government declared a “No Fishing Zone,” closing thousands of square miles of open ocean as well as coastlines in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and my home state of Florida.

I returned to the area in 2014, this time slowly covering the entire U.S. Gulf Coast from Naples, Florida to the southern point of Texas over six weeks and crossing more than 5,000 miles. The latest photographs further explore the nuances of the region and also include the ubiquitous use of land, animals and natural resources as they pertain to industry and recreation. The traditions, attitudes and livelihoods that are passed down through multiple generations are wound tightly into the fabric of the place and are often visible within the landscape.

—Camilo Ramirez