Spotlight: Chris Slappendel, Netherlands
In our Spotlight feature, we ask our members some questions to learn more about what inspires their photography, the processes they use to make images, and the stories behind their favorite pictures.
Q: What’s the story behind your favorite photo in your Your Shot gallery?
A: Tigers are on the brink of extinction, something I just can’t stand. Without having a “green” background I decided to make my own contribution to save tigers. I decided to make a trip through 31 countries where tigers once lived or still live to raise awareness by telling the story of the tiger.
I found one important part of the story in China. Not only because China killed almost all the tigers it once had (the Bengal tiger in Tibet is almost gone, the Indochinese tiger in the southern regions are gone, the South China tiger is already extinct in the wild, and the Amur tiger in the north in Heilongjiang is also in serious jeopardy) or that China hosts almost all consumers of tiger products (Chinese medicines, tiger bone wine, skins, teeth, meat), but also that the Chinese government is not acting in a way ecologists, tiger experts, and even important international organizations like CITES would like to with regard to tiger farming. Because of this, poaching increases in a rapid pace, with wildlife crime being now the fourth [most prevalent] crime in the world.
This picture was made at a tiger farm in Harbin, in the north of China. Tiger farms are established for one purpose: making huge money under the cover of conservancy purposes. The sole existence of these farms fuels the demand for wild tigers, especially [during] 2013 because more Chinese people are able to afford tiger products.
This photo shows a world that is changing—the viewer can judge whether the change is for the better or for the worse.
Q: What do you want to say with your images?
A: THINK! I want people to think about what they see. I’m trying to capture moments in time that are essential for what’s going on in that particular situation. And [that] the one who looks at the photograph not only looks at it, but also is triggered to think about it even more.
Q: Whose photography has influenced you the most?
A: Peter Lindbergh, an amazing photographer who worked with supermodels. Especially his black-and-white blurriness inspired me a lot. Because of his talent I realized I didn’t want to work with models, despite their beauty and their talents. I’m fascinated by real life and decided long ago to make only real-life photos, with real people.
See more of Chris’s images in his Your Shot gallery.