I am fascinated by the visual energy and tension created at the intersections of nature and human activity. Uniquely as a species, we consciously modify and use the environment for our perceived needs or enjoyment. Sometimes we consider the future consequences of our actions. More often, we focus myopically on the short-term utility of land and resource use. We are now at a critical juncture in the evolution of our species. How we choose to live on Earth in the next few decades, with a rapidly growing human population and expanding consumption patterns, may determine not only our prospects for survival, but also the ultimate viability of the global ecosystem.

The focus of my work over the past three years has been on the development of large-scale renewable energy in the American West. I began this work in October 2010, with a flight over the future site of Ivanpah Solar in the Mojave Desert of California, USA. Now complete, as of February 2014, Ivanpah Solar is the world’s largest concentrated solar thermal power plant, with the capacity to produce 392 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 140,000 American homes.

In our inexorable quest for energy to meet the growing demands of a consumption dependent culture, we are transforming our natural, rural, and urban landscapes at an accelerating pace. The need to examine such transformations with an aesthetic and critical eye is compelling and necessary. To think consciously about the decisions we make, or have imposed upon us, we need to see these changes. As an artist, aerial photography is a principal component of my work. I explore perspectives distinct from those found on earth’s surface, revealing information.

Sponsored by Blue Earth, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, this project seeks to foster a clearer understanding of large-scale renewable energy projects and be a constructive pro-active voice for responsible energy development.

—Jamey Stillings


Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Earth Awards 2015. In total, you’ll find 34 unique points of view inspired by the earth, nature and our shared surroundings. Beauty, destruction, wonder and hope—these are timely, important works that shouldn’t be missed!