I’ve photographed the Amazon for the past eight years, and the Trans-Amazonian highway is impossible to ignore. The deforestation and colonisation is, in some cases, causing irreversible damage in this fragile ecosystem, yet many people are unaware of the problem. I hope this image series helps make people aware of the reality the local, remote communities are facing.
Sebastián Liste shows the complex impact the redevelopment of the Trans-Amazonian highway is having on the Amazon rainforest's produce, landscape and communities.
Q: Why did you focus on the Trans-Amazonian Highway for your project?
I’ve photographed the Amazon for the past eight years, and the Trans-Amazonian highway is impossible to ignore. It’s the third-longest highway in Brazil, acting as a gateway for the country to position itself as one of the world’s most important exporters of meat, coffee, sugar and soybean – all of which are farmed in the rainforest.
Q: You’ve said the conditions were tough to work in. Was this your biggest challenge during the project?
In the Amazon the weather can change very quickly and go from incredibly hot and dry conditions to torrential rain, so you have to be prepared. I was exposed to it all, walking through the forest for about ten hours a day, so I needed sturdy and reliable equipment that would allow me to keep shooting no matter what. The robustness of my weather-sealed cameras, the D850 and Z 7, met this need.
Q: You’ve one image of a young girl surrounded by purple flowers deep in the rainforest. Why is this special to you?
For me, this shot is quiet yet emotional. Nothing is happening but it is full of beauty and intensity. Aesthetically, the D850 has captured real texture and detail, lending a sense of importance to this ‘little’ moment.
Q; What kit did you bring with you and how did it help you?
I was lucky to shoot on the Z 7 mirrorless camera for this project, alongside the D850. The Z 7 shoots with incredible detail and is perfect for low-light conditions, which was invaluable in the Amazon, working with natural light. The camera is also robust and durable, so I wasn’t afraid to put it to the test in the unpredictable weather conditions.
The D850, meanwhile, brings speed, resolution and sharpness – exactly what I need when creating high-quality images of often fleeting moments in complex environments.
Q: What message do you hope to deliver with your Nikon Special Project?
I am so grateful to Nikon for funding this project and giving me the opportunity to pursue something I am passionate about. Having worked in the Amazon for a long time, it is important for me to tell the stories of the communities I have met. The deforestation and colonisation of the Amazon is, in some cases, causing irreversible damage, yet many people are unaware of the problem. I hope that, to some degree, this image series helps spread the word and make people aware of the reality these remote communities are facing.