The revival of nature’s raw, untainted form through photography lies at the core of Irenaeus Herok’s visual practise. The Sydney-born travel photographer translates his thoughts into images, prompting viewers to reflect on the impact humanity’s actions have on the planet.
“I would like the viewer to observe with me how we tamper in this world and how nature still dominate.”
Often capturing alluring scenes from helicopters, planes and drones, or even from the peak of a mountain, the photographer surveys the constant evolution of the planet, documenting the ways humans interact with the environment. His photos, steeped with a sense of global urgency, remind the viewer why, collectively, we must preserve the unpolluted sites that have stood the test of time.
“Our planet is constantly changing, and humans are a big factor in contributing to this change, but not always in a positive way,” Herok says. “From an elevated perspective, the viewer can experience the scale and distances of the world and the relationships between objects and people in a different way. I like this floating view and the feeling of it.” He echoes American photographer David Alan Harvey’s famous plea: “Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like.”
Citing old masters such as the 18th century English artists John Webber and watercolourist William Turner as his muses, Herok’s affinity for historic art is woven into his contemporary works. “I find it fascinating how they documented the environment they were surrounded by and how people lived so close to nature,” he shares. “And can you imagine, they created those paintings for us to see in the future, using only a paintbrush and colours? I think it is important to have a document in the form of images that shows the following generation what the past looked like. In saying that, nature itself is the best inspiration.”
Mesmerised by the tranquil nature of Middle Eastern landscapes – the powder-soft sands and glistening turquoise shores punctuated by neat black roads – the photographer captured ethereal, aerial perspectives of the UAE between 2016 and 2019. “Every environment has its specific moods,” he says. “Near the ocean, the changes in light happen more drastically and more often. In saying that, the desert has its own calming and soothing disposition. In Dubai, you can experience both.”
Follow Iranaeus on Instagram @IHEROK
Words: Ayesha S. Shehmir