The Patagonia Sur Documentary Project: Field Notes—Introduction
February 16th, 2012
In the past few years of living off-and-on in Chile, I’ve become more familiar with some of the environmental issues facing this region. I am getting to “know” Chile not only as an ex-pat, but, as is often the case for me, my relationship to this place is now defined by the environmental stories that I tell as a photographer and film-maker.
I am also a partner owner of 2 Patagonia (clothing) stores in Chile (Puerto Varas and Pucon) and as such, I partnered with the brand to produce a short film about the Sin Represas campaign, an exhibit at the Adventure Film Festival, and other outdoor/environmental outreach tools and events. All of which have furthered my understanding of this incredible country that is just beginning to really embrace it’s own environmental movement—which makes this an exciting time to be an environmental documentarian here in Chile!
At the 2011 Adventure Film Festival in Santiago I was introduced to the company Patagonia Sur. They had a booth at the festival with information about the carbon offset and conservation work they were doing in “the south” (as Patagonia is generally referred to by Chileans). The Patagonia Sur philosophy and business model “merges conservation and capitalism”.
This concept of for-profit conservation is slow to be embraced by the environmental community, but I had witnessed how effective this model can be in places like Argentina, Indonesia and California while documenting programs for The Nature Conservancy where the ultimate goal is sustainable conservation, but it is often achieved by nurturing economic development. So it was intriguing to see a for-profit company applying this model to our beloved Patagonia.
A few weeks after learning about the company, I met with founder Warren Adams and his wife Megan Weeks Adams to see if my journalistic instincts were correct, and their US/Chilean company might have the kind of in-depth, unique environmental stories that I am always seeking in my work. I soon realized that not only was the Patagonia Sur story a genuinely interesting one for me as a documentarian, but (as luck would have it!) they were in need of a new body of images and video to help tell their story.
By November of 2012 my Chilean assistant/field producer/logistical wonder Dani Casado and I were bound for Valle California, one of the six Patagonia Sur properties/nature preserves to begin a roughly 6 month project creating a new archive of images and a series of short videos for Patagonia Sur.
I’ll include a few photos here of our adventures from the field, and Dani and I will try to be more prompt about posting updates from the field!