Wildlife photography is a medium that I struggle with ethically, yet it is the format of a large portion of my practice.

This medium requires a parasitic relationship in which only I benefit. As I deal with wildlife and seeking out remote spaces, I am conflicted about the impact I have on the environment, my imposition on these animals, and the appropriation that is inherent in my practice.

A query that I have received for years from viewers of my work is: “is that real?” This initial response is perfect for opening up a dialogue. I am a conservationist, so I construct commentaries on animal rights, habitat loss and the flux of human intervention.

Visually, I channel nuances of the surreal in my work and am heavily influenced by photo montage. All of this circles back to notions of reality and the impact of our subjective reality on an inhospitable world. In this series, I explore surface encounters and conceptual rationales to question what is real.

New life is born in a time that is inhospitable.

—Philip Kanwischer

Editor’s Note: This project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2016—don’t miss the work from all 50 of these outstanding, international talents!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like one of these previous features: Inherit the Dust, powerfully cinematic murals erected in Africa that show the impact of industry on the animal landscape; Subjective Trophies, highly stylized portraits of hunters and the animals they’ve killed; and Land of Nothingness, a poetic series on one of the least inhabited places on earth: the Namibian desert.