Amazon Headwaters

Locals Working Toward the Global


Bruce Farnsworth

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Las cabeceras de las Amazonas: proyectos locales/diseños globales

Small groups of residents across the inhabited rainforests of the upper Amazon region are leading cutting-edge programs in research, conservation, education and sustainable economies. Their stories—in images and testimonials—need to be told.

Amazon Headwaters is a new turn in rainforest documentary coverage, complementing the popular focus on crises with a more positive paradigm, shining the spotlight on successful regional collaborations led by those closest to the land.

Tropical ecologists will tell you that one key to saving the rainforests is integrating the support of communities that adjoin large protected areas.  To encourage this support, local residents will be both the subject of and the first audiences for Amazon Headwaters, beginning with the production of major public exhibits hosted in rainforest gateway communities of Perú, Ecuador and Bolivia.

My photography and multimedia work—facilitated by conservation and media partners in the U.S, Europe and Latin America—will be geared to educational, editorial and exhibition outlets.  With these images, I will promote the contributions of families, women and youth to rainforest solutions, illustrate the application of traditional ecological knowledge in forest management, and feature environmental portraits of many individuals to celebrate their dedication to conservation.

Amazon Headwaters: Locals Working Toward the Global will show the real faces of rainforest protection in the species-rich communities of the upper Amazon.

Project portfolio with captions



Bruce Farnsworth is a fine art and editorial photographer focusing on sustainability and the environment. His feature and assignment credits include such magazines as National Geographic, Smithsonian, High Country News, and The Nature Conservancy, and his work has been exhibited widely.

His intimate and richly textured images are influenced by profound intercultural experiences and university training in zoology, environmentalism and art. While this documentary project focuses on environmental justice, his wildlife images have been honored by the Nature’s Best Windland Rice Smith and BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions.

Farnsworth received the Dakota Resource Council's 2014 Above & Beyond Award for his photography of the Bear Den pipeline spill on behalf of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations. He is further advancing the use of photography in conservation as a board member of The Biodiversity Group and advisor to the Third Millennium Alliance. Bruce has been nominated to the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Please visit Fracking: Forgotten on the Bakken to learn the stories behind these images.

To view Farnsworth's first Blue Earth project, please visit Amazon Headwaters and this portfolio.

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Featured Projects

Mountain Caribou
A Visual Journey into the Imperiled World of an Endangered Species

Photographer: David Moskowitz

The alpine kingdom of mountain caribou in western Canada and the northwestern United States is crumbling around these beautiful and sensitive creatures. As their habitat has been steadily altered or destroyed by human activities, mountain caribou have been declining rapidly. Unsure whether this project will be documentation of the end of a distinct ecotype of caribou or a step towards inspiring the change in human behavior needed to save these animals, David Moskowitz set out to explore the world of these reclusive animals across the Selkirk, Columbia and Rocky mountains.

Ross Island and the Future of the McMurdo Sound Region

Photographer: Alasdair Turner

We have entered a time when places the least near us beckon us to understand them, to feel them so that while we tred on our part of the Earth they are constantly with us and with our choices. Ross Island and the McMurdo Sound Region and the science being conducted there embody what is left of our critical and fragile ecosystems and our attempts to understand them. They are not land for a nation but a place for the world. This project is intended to emotionally and scientifically engage citizens of every nation about why this place and the incredible science that is being conducted there matters. It will give life to and investigate the science of the region from the earliest expeditions to today’s ongoing research.

Between River and Sea

Photographer: Michael Hanson

Between River and Sea focuses on life in and around Apalachicola, FL. For over a century, an independent, hand-built industry has drifted through the shallow waters of the Apalachicola Bay. This bay, one of the most productive and unique ecosystems in the country, once produced 10% of the nation’s oysters and 90% of Florida's. Today, only a handful of oystermen have work and this community struggles to maintain its tradition and livelihood. Oysters need a mix of freshwater and saltwater. They depend on this balance but the freshwater coming down the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Basin has been drastically cut short by a series of dams and overuse in Georgia and Alabama. As droughts persist alongside a constant pressure from a major metropolitan city at the headwaters, the Apalachicola Bay clings to a trickle of water. The project aims to connect users throughout the watershed and expose what's at the end of the river. It also aims to celebrate the bay and a lifestyle that revolves around the perfect mix of fresh and salt water.

Fracking: Forgotten on the Bakken

Photographer: Bruce Farnsworth

Forgotten on the Bakken illustrates the environmental and cultural impacts of fracking, an industry now underway in 20 states. This project begins on the northern great plains but is representative of experiences throughout fracking country. Traditions of open space and agrarian livelihoods have been disrupted by a flurry of activities associated with the high-volume hydraulic fracturing industry. North Dakota—situated on the Bakken geologic formation—is now the second highest oil-producing state in the nation.