4 B.C. photographers' works selected in UN climate summit photo competition

·3 min read
Matt Lazzarotto's image of a burned forest near Barriere, B.C., was one of four B.C. photographs selected for the global climate change summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. (Matt Lazzarotto - image credit)
Matt Lazzarotto's image of a burned forest near Barriere, B.C., was one of four B.C. photographs selected for the global climate change summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. (Matt Lazzarotto - image credit)

A Kamloops man is one of four B.C. photographers whose works have been selected by the U.K. government to illustrate how climate change devastates the world, ahead of a global climate summit it will host this year.

In late March, Matt Lazzarotto and three other photographers from B.C. were named by the United Kingdom High Commission in Ottawa as finalists for the Capturing Climate photo competition, which it organized to celebrate the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 1-2.

The contest was won by Ray Mackey from Paradise, Nfld. Seven other Canadians, four of whom were from B.C., were selected as finalists, as were three photographers from Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec.

The B.C. photographers are: Amit Sharma and Sophie Pilkington from Vancouver and Tyler Martin from Vernon, B.C.

Amit Sharma says he chose this photo to submit to the competition because 'bees are vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature.'
Amit Sharma says he chose this photo to submit to the competition because 'bees are vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature.'(Amit Sharma)

The High Commission says the works will be displayed outside of its office building and the commissioner's home and may be displayed in London and other United Kingdom diplomatic posts worldwide as well.

According to the photo competition website, Lazzarotto is originally from Surrey, B.C. and studied digital graphic design at Vancouver Community College. He moved to Kamloops in 2019.

Lazzarotto says he chose the winning image — a black-and-white photo of a burned forest near Barriere about 65 kilometres north of Kamloops — because it's a stark reminder of how climate change led to a drier, hotter summer that in turn caused tragic wildfires across the southern B.C. Interior nearly two decades ago.

Kamloops, B.C.'s Matt Lazzarotto is one of eight photographers across Canada whose works were selected in a photo competition organized by the U.K. High Commission in Ottawa.
Kamloops, B.C.'s Matt Lazzarotto is one of eight photographers across Canada whose works were selected in a photo competition organized by the U.K. High Commission in Ottawa.(U.K. High Commission in Canada)

Started by a discarded cigarette butt on the hills behind McLure, B.C. in July 2003, the fire burned more than 65,000 acres of land across the South Thompson region for 75 days. Thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes as a result.

"I could submit five photos for this competition. This image was likely the most impactful," he said Thursday to Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "It just sent a clear message of the devastating effects of climate change."

As a freelancer, Lazzarotto says he has lost some gigs during the COVID-19 pandemic and wasn't initially motivated to participate in the competition but finally did, thanks to his wife's encouragement.

"My wife pushed me, 'Go for this competition! You're an amazing photographer!'" he said. "I didn't even expect to make it into the final round, and here we are and it's being picked up."

Lazzarotto says he's excited that his photo may be shown to United Nations delegates in the climate summit.

The COP26 climate summit was initially scheduled for last November, but the U.K. government postponed it to this November due to the pandemic.

Vancouver's Sophie Pilkington was one of four finalists from B.C., with this photo of the Dokie Ridge Wind Farm near Chetwynd of northeastern B.C.
Vancouver's Sophie Pilkington was one of four finalists from B.C., with this photo of the Dokie Ridge Wind Farm near Chetwynd of northeastern B.C.(Sophie Pilkington)