Emma Sleep

How art is taking on climate change: An interview with photographer Lisa Michele Burns

We can all enjoy and appreciate beautiful photography. But when a photograph has true meaning and intention behind it, that really gets our attention. We sat down with travel photographer, Lisa Michele Burns from The Wandering Lens to understand how her art is helping tackle climate change.

This truly is, photography with heart.

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Lisa Michele Burns_The Wandering Lens
Lisa Michele Burns from The Wandering Lens
The Wandering Lens_Lisa Michele Burns_Jokulsarlon

Lisa Michele Burns is a photojournalist behind the hugely successful website, The Wandering Lens. But she wanted to do more…

“I’ve been travelling for as long as I can remember,” smiles Lisa.

“I left home the day after finishing school to trek through Vietnam and it feels like a non-stop journey ever since! In the current state of the world, it feels weirdly foreign to be based full-time in Brisbane! 

“The Wandering Lens started as a way to combine my work as a travel journalist and photographer. After spending 6 years living on Hayman Island, I was desperate to see more of the world. So I took a risk, hoping my creative business would take off!

“The site is now the leading publisher of travel guides for photographers. I also host photo tours in places like Japan where readers can join me for a week of photography adventures.”

Lisa Michel Burns_The Wandering Lens_on location

The Photographic Forecast, Lisa’s latest project, aims to bring awareness to locations being significantly impacted by climate change.

“As a photographer who visits photogenic landscapes for work, I felt this was a way I could give back and help to protect the environment. At the same time, it helps generate a conversation about these areas impacted by a change in global temperature.

“My collection includes a range of photographs from regions across the globe that are at risk of adapting to, or changing because of climatic conditions.

“I’m a bit of a research nerd, and was reading up on how so many places were being impacted by climate change. It’s become really apparent we need to start putting in the effort now. 

And we can do simple things at home to help! Things like using a clothesline instead of a dryer, reducing your carbon footprint and supporting green companies. These are great places to start.

“With the work that I do, launching the print collection just felt like the next step. I honestly get so excited when customers send a snap of their prints in their homes!”

The Wandering Lens_Lisa Michele Burns_Dead Vlei

The Photographic Forecast collection allows people to purchase beautiful art while at the same time, contributing towards tackling climate change.

“The collection includes images from arctic, desert and coastal environments,” Lisa explains.

“The main focus is around regions of significant climatic conditions. It’s my way of highlighting landscapes impacted by environmental factors, but that also inspired me creatively. It was the perfect way to blend my two passions together.

“A donation from each print sale will be go towards conservation and climate change adaptation initiatives in Australia and around the world.

My goal is to inspire discussions about our natural world, and visual art is the best way I personally know, to bring awareness to the issues facing these beautiful, yet fragile regions.

The Wandering Lens_Lisa Michele Burns_The Tree of Life

Lisa clearly has an incredible photographic eye, managing to find beautiful lines and surfaces in the simplest of subjects.

“I’ve always been drawn to tones and textures within a scene. I love spending time in a location seeking out the features and trying to find ways to highlight them through photographs.

“Shadows and patterns work really well to showcase the beauty of a landscape. But I also find pairing everything back and using a minimalistic approach can create its own allure.

“When photographing a landscape I do my research in order to be at the right place at the right time. Having said that, it’s always a matter of letting the conditions do their part.

“Many of my favourite images were unplanned. They were just moments that happened while I was waiting and watching. An unexpected fog or a burst of colour in the sky on a cloudy afternoon,” smiles Lisa.

“It’s hard to describe my creative process because more often than not it changes based on where I am. I guess you could say it’s a go with the flow approach!”

The Wandering Lens_Lisa Michele Burns_green and orange landscape

With cameras in our phones, we’re all able to take photos at any given moment. But we wanted to learn how Lisa captures such beauty so effortlessly.

“I like to feature a pastel palette throughout my collections so photographing during golden hour is essential. Then I usually make some small tweaks in post processing, to ensure consistency throughout the images.

“If you’re keen on photography, find a way to develop your own unique view of the world. There are so many visuals out there that in order to truly stand out, you need to capture images true to your vision. You want to showcase scenes and subjects with a different approach or style.”

Thank you so much to Lisa for having a chat with us. Her beautiful art and contribution towards tackling climate change is so inspiring! To view The Photographic Forecast collection, visit The Wandering Lens website, or check out her Instagram page.

More artist profiles here

The Wandering Lens_Lisa Michele Burns_Zambriskie Dusk
Lisa Michel Burns_The Wandering Lens_hanging artworks in gallery
The Wandering Lens_Lisa Michele Burns_whale
Gina Beschorner Style Curator

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