Louisianians know what climate change looks like — or at least what others think climate change looks like in the Bayou State.
Aerial photos depict the state’s rapidly dissolving coastal marsh. Photos of families waist deep in muddy water emphasize the increased flood risk for those in the southern half of the state.
But what if environmental photography wasn’t always steeped in devastation? Can the urgency of climate matters be conveyed in a way that reveres the state’s beauty instead of reflecting on its constant losses?
That’s the goal for Virginia Hanusik, a New Orleans-based photographer whose work has been featured in National Geographic and The New Yorker among other publications.
Some of Hanusik’s work explores the relationship between nearly uninhabitable environments and the infrastructure that allows communities to survive in them. There is a church nestled among cypress knees. A home is shown raised above water. But perhaps the most compelling are the frames that align with Hanusik’s stated mission, like the transmission towers interrupting an otherwise serene landscape and the vanishing coastline captured in the soft, rosy glow of a sunset.
Hanusik spoke to USA Today’s The American South about her work, its meaning and the complexity of capturing a changing landscape with intention.
A 2020-21 photography fellow with the Landmark Columbus Foundation, Hanusik recently finished a project examining the Mississippi River and the infrastructure…