In a world constantly evolving, Trevor Cole stands as a beacon of enlightenment, vividly capturing the intricate relationship between humans and the environment through his lens. His journey from a geographer to a globally recognized photographer is nothing short of inspiring. Trevor has an innate ability to narrate compelling stories through his photographs, taking viewers on a visual voyage through time and space. In this exclusive interview, Trevor shares with us the pivotal moments of his career, his inspirations, and the driving forces behind his celebrated photography.
Retro Kolkata : Trevor, could you share with us the moment when you realized that photography wasn't just a hobby, but a passion that you wanted to pursue professionally?
Trevor: My interest in photography started at an early age when I travelled with my parents and they bought me a Roleiflex SLR. When I taught Geography in England and further afield I wanted to capture people and landscapes in different contexts. I love diversity and this includes both the human/cultural and the biophysical environment. A Geographer Photographer! I stopped teaching overseas in 2012 and decided to do photography full time, specifically running small photo tours.
Retro Kolkata : As a world traveller, you've captured various cultures and landscapes on your journey. Can you share an experience that particularly moved you or changed your perspective on life?
Trevor: I have always loved to travel, especially to places which are a little off the beaten track. My photography, together with travel, have become two of my life’s passions. It focuses predominantly on people, culture, and landscapes; images which reflect a spatial and temporal journey through life and which try to convey a need to live in a more sustainable world. I seek the moment and the light in whatever context I find myself and endeavour to use my photographic acumen to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. When I first went to the Omo Valley 22 years ago the tribes enthralled me and it was perhaps then that I realised I needed to document and photograph indigenous peoples.
Retro Kolkata : Your work seems to carry a strong message about sustainability. How does your background as a geographer inform your perspective on this issue, and how do you aim to communicate this through your photography?
Trevor: When I first started I was fascinated by the difference in landscape and culture when I travelled and I think it is this which provided me with stimulus. I always like to think that humans are inextricably connected to their environment, hence I love to shoot people and landscapes. People adapt to climates and landscapes, therefore they are a reflection of their natural habitats and this contributes to the immense diversity of humankind on this Earth. Sadly, globalisation is reducing diversity and homogenising culture. I love to travel to more remote areas to see people in their true environmental contexts. The people of the Omo valley in Ethiopia, for example, or the Himba in Kaokoland, Namibia. Although even here there is constant change. It is an imperative to convey a message that we can learn from indigenous people and photography can enable more ethical and sensitive approaches to understanding their lives. Photography can be used as an educational tool to convey that we need to be sensitive to the diversity of humankind and respect the rights of these people to self-determination.