Placing impression of Quebec wildfire fighter amid burnt landscape wins Earth Push Picture award

Standing on top of a massive boulder, a young forest firefighter surveys the destruction wrought by Quebec’s worst wildfire period in recent historical past. Nothing but thinned-out, charred trees and a stark sky encompass him. 

The black-and-white photograph, captured final summer time by Charles-Frédérick Ouellet and titled A Working day in the Everyday living of a Quebec Fireplace Crew has just won the North and Central American Single Photograph award at the 2023 Earth Push Picture contest. 

Ouellet spent much more than a day in the everyday living of a hearth crew. In point, he was part of a person as an auxiliary firefighter with the province’s wildfire prevention agency, the Société de security des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), very last year.

The photographer and filmmaker from the borough of Chicoutimi in Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region received auxiliary firefighter teaching for a documentary he was performing on with fellow photographer, Nicolas Lévesque, in get to be able to document crews’ work on the floor. 

But when fires started to multiply in the spring, Ouellet and Lévesque decided to pitch in for the most gruelling components of the period. In the ensuing months, more than 700 fires burned around 4.5 million hectares of Quebec forest.

“I have been doing the job on [the subject of] wildfires for a while now, but this 12 months obviously was really a nuts year in which all the things was out of control,” Ouellet claimed in an interview. 

Becoming equipped to do the function by itself grew to become additional than a way of gaining access and documenting wildfires and the persons preventing them, he explained.

“This immersive solution has generally been part of my of my way of carrying out images. I truly feel it truly is from time to time more about knowledge the people today that you photograph, finding out from them, and often looking at from what they inform you about,” he mentioned. 

The Entire world Push profitable photograph depicts firefighter Théo Dagnaud in a forest north of Lac Saint-Jean that experienced already burned on July 13, 2023. A modest crew, which include Ouellet, had been dispatched to make sure practically nothing was burning in the place anymore. 

“We have been generating absolutely sure that there was nothing left on the floor actually because it was a reburn internet site and since this rock was there as an extraction issue, it was a wonderful web page where we could overview the total area,” Ouellet said. 

A reburn website, in wildfire battling, is an region where by fireplace has currently swept by way of but which could nonetheless contain flammable components that could reignite.

The image is between 24 winning projects and 6 honourable mentions to be highlighted by the contest this yr. The selected photographs will also be portion of the once-a-year Environment Push Picture exhibition, revealed in 60 areas about the planet, which includes Montreal.

Charles-Frédérick Ouellet, at first from Chicoutimi, Que., is the winner of the North and Central American Single Photograph at the 2023 Earth Press Photo contest. (Submitted by Charles-Frédérick Ouellet)

“The jury viewed this single as a powerful symbol of the battle towards weather breakdown, serving as a metaphor for humanity’s collective vanity. The image’s legendary composition — reminiscent of a monument — poetically embodies the grief and gravity of the environmental crisis,” the Globe Press’s Jury Report reported.

Ouellet identified as the award a “massive honour, in particular as a documentary photographer. It truly is a single of the maximum rewards that you can get in the planet of photojournalism.” 

Ouellet has also embedded with fishermen on the St. Lawrence River. In a several years-lengthy task that culminated in numerous exhibitions as nicely as a ebook called Le naufrage (the wreckin 2018, Ouellet captured not only the work’s arduousness and that of the men and women exercising it — but also the drama of the environment: the contrast of the horizon, the jagged rocks, the maritime birds passing as a result of or halting by.

Fishermen, Ouellet noticed, “have a definitely visual language in which when they converse. And it really is truly the same thing when you’re working with the wildfire fighters, like they comprehend so effectively the ecosystem and the surroundings.”

“There is so significantly poetry in their way of speaking about points,” he explained.

The photographer is heading back to sea this year as element of a residency through the Canadian Forces Artists Plan. One more challenge he is doing work on is a small movie about “publish-conflict memory” in Bosnia, in which he has documented the aftermath of the war that took location in Bosnia and Herzegovina amongst 1992 and 1995.