Update from Paul Colangelo, 2011 Photocrati Fund Winner

Here’s an update on Paul Colangelo, the 2011 Photocrati Fund winner. Here, we highlight a small selection of images from his work in the Sacred Headwaters region of British Columbia. The full photo essay is currently embargoed until publication by a major news outlet later this year. We can’t reveal anything about that just yet, but trust us, it is very exciting! Stay tuned for another update and a complete photo essay by this incredibly talented young photographer. 


The Stikine River flows in the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, Stikine Plateau, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Tucked into the mountainous folds of remote northwestern British Columbia, lies Todagin Mountain, home to what is thought to be the largest lambing herd of Stone’s sheep in the world. Never leaving the windswept grassy plateau of Todagin, the herd shifts between seasonal ranges across the mountain. Todagin has been the sheep’s sanctuary since the local Tahltan people can remember. Todagin falls within the Sacred Headwaters, a region that members of the Tahltan have been fighting to protect since coming under threat of numerous mining proposals.

Recognizing the value of the herd, the government of British Columbia protected its winter range via the creation of the Todagin South Slope Provincial Park in 2001. Since then, however, it has issued drilling permits for nearly the entire plateau, encompassing the herd’s spring, summer and fall ranges. If this land is mined, the herd will lose the majority of its habitat and could be forced off the only home it has known.

A small boat on Ealue Lake after sunset, Stikine Plateau, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Graveyard overlooking the Stikine River, Telegraph Creek, Tahltan First Nation, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Mountain goats, Grand Canyon of the Stikine, British Columbia, © Paul Colangelo 2010

Tributaries of the upper Klappan River, Skeena Mountains, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

While working on Sacred Headwaters, a book by Wade Davis aimed at raising awareness of the region, I initially camped on Todagin for a week to photograph the herd. I witnessed first-hand that the mining tenure squarely overlaps the herd’s habitat. Two issues needed to be addressed: a lack of scientific knowledge on the herd, and a lack of public awareness of land use plans on this remote plateau.

Teaming up with Dr. Wes Sechrest, Chief Scientist at Global Wildlife Conservation, and Wade Davis, we launched a two-pronged project: gain knowledge of the herd by mapping its movements across the plateau, and raise awareness of the issue through popular media.

In summer 2011, I was dropped off by helicopter with enough gear and supplies to live with the herd for four months. Completely isolated, I plotted the herd’s movements with specialized camera equipment and photographed the sheep with the aim of telling their story. By three weeks I was immersed in the rhythms of the herd and awoke to the subtleties of the plateau.

Weather proved to be the main challenge. It was officially the worst summer of weather in 50 years in British Columbia. The first windstorm sent tents and gear flying a mile down a valley and crashing into cliffs. The second windstorm occurred in late September, when there was half a foot of snow on the ground. It was so violent that it blocked highways 3,000 feet below me with felled trees and mudslides. I was evacuated by helicopter and had to finish the season a month early.

I will return to Todagin this summer and fall to complete the project, which becomes increasingly more urgent as development continues to ramp up. Images will be released upon publication of the story.

As a business student heading towards a corporate life, my life changed when I received my first camera as a graduation gift. Within months of my first picture, I left my job to pursue a life in photography. It was while working for Frans Lanting that I realized the power of storytelling and dedicated my life to telling stories of wildlife, environmental issues and the crossroads of culture and our natural world.

A grizzly bear chases salmon in a tributary of the Nass River, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Eulachon left to decompose in front of a cabin before being processed into an oil known as “eulachon grease”, Nisga’a First Nation, Nass River, British Columbia

Salmon hanging in a Tahltan smokehouse on the Stikine River, Tahltan Nation, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012


A young Tahltan girl beats a drum during celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Tahltan Declaration, Telegraph Creek, Tahltan Nation, British Columbia


2012 Photocrati Fund Top 25 Finalists


The 2012 Photocrati Fund judging is still underway, and we don’t envy the task at hand. With more than 400 talented applicants, selecting a winner is a tough challenge. Our staff and judges have enjoyed reading about the many meaningful projects, and more than that, we’ve loved checking out the outstanding photography. It is one of our favorite times of the year — a chance to be inspired by all of the great work that so many of you are doing in the field. That said, the pool is presently whittled down to the top 25 finalists for this year’s fund. Here they are:

2012 Photocrati Fund Top 25 Finalists

Kashmir: Paths to Peace

AIDS Orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa

The RED Badges of Courage (Tanzania)

The Orphaned Elderly of Kathmandu

The Timber Mafia (Pakistan)

The Written-Off  Future (Jalisco, Mexico)

Where Have All the Hunters Gone? (Peruvian Amazon)

Borderline Living. Refugees in Lebanon


Terror Beat of Acid (Bangladesh)


In the Shadow of the Pyramids (Egypt)

Social Impact of Post-Civil War Violence in Guatemala


Invisible Women (Beruit, Lebanon)

The Black Turtle Project (Baja California)

Life Without Lights (Uganda)

La Carretera: Life Along Peru’s Inter-Oceanic Highway


Attrition of the Mind: They Psychological Effects of Burma’s Kachin Conflict


Columbian Urban Refugees in Ecuador


A Fragile State: Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau

The Silent Siege (Kachin State, Myanmar)

After Conflict: A Hope (Mogadishu)

Nomadic Children’s Bitter Fate (Mongolia)

Northern Vancouver Island’s Endangered Ancient Forests

Huaorani – Forest People of Ecuador

The Brus – Displaced and Desolate (India)


The Dai’


Photocrati Fund Grant Competition Deadline Extended until April 4!

If you are an environmental, wildlife or humanitarian photographer, and you haven’t submitted your application to the 2012 Photocrati Fund grant competition, you have a few more days! We have just extended the deadline until Wednesday, April 4, 2012 (11:59pm Mountain Standard Time). The Photocrati Fund is a $5,000 grant for a photographer to undertake an important environmental, wildlife or humanitarian project. It’s judged by some of the best photographers in the world.

Check out the Photocrati Fund page for submission guidelines. And be sure to have a look at the cool video of last year’s Photocrati Fund winner and top finalists.

$5000 Grants for Photographers: The 2012 Photocrati Fund Competition is Now Open!

The Photocrati Team is happy to announce that the 2012 Photocrati Fund is now open! The Photocrati Fund offers $5,000 grants to photographers working on important humanitarian or environmental photography projects. For more details, visit the Photocrati Fund page:


The Photocrati Fund, now in its third year, is one of the rare options today for upfront funding of photography projects. It also means great exposure – the judges are some of the best known environmental and humanitarian photographers in the world, and the winner is announced in front of a audience of prominent photographers and editors at the Look3 Festival each year.

Take a look at the 2011 winner and top finalists:

View it in full resolution here.

The Photocrati Fund is one of the most exciting and satisfying things we do each year. It’s deeply personal for me, because I still remember slogging in poverty through Southeast Asia, covering things like illegal logging in Borneo and various humanitarian disasters. I know a lot of dedicated photographers are out there doing the same thing today. Funding for such undertakings has always been sparse, but with changes and financial challenges in the media business, finding project funding outside of a few grants has become almost impossible. That is one of the key reasons that we remain committed to supporting great photographers doing important work.

Please consider applying, or to pass the word along to other photographers you know who are working on important environmental or humanitarian projects!

Erick Danzer is Founder & CEO of Photocrati Media.