PDN Photo of the Day

Benjamin Lowy: Oil on Water

Benjamin Lowy: Oil on Water


All images © Benjamin Lowy / VII Network

Tendrils and plumes of oil have covered the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a viscous mess in the open sea. The environmental disaster that was caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is horrible and will no doubt have a long lasting impact on the Gulf. While on assignment for GQ magazine covering the disaster, I was struck by how beautiful the congealed pockets of crude were. Floating on the sea, swirling with the seawater, they looked strangely like abstract paintings. These are close up images of the pools of oil that stagnate on the surface of the Gulf.

—Benjamin Lowy



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  1. Agreed. These are intriguing and even beautiful images, but the reality of this horror is much more significant to me. The photographs of the oil soaked, dead, and dying animals along with our fragile ecosystems is so devastating. It may just be too soon, for me to truly be able to compliment this artistry.

  2. Great images indeed and artful, but I don’t see the beauty in the horror. I don’t even feel these images convey anything since they could have been shot anywhere that oil mixes with water.

  3. I think people are missing the point. We know what happened, and we see it in pictures by the wires, by the newspapers, etc. WHY are we asking Ben to do the same? Can we not see another angle on this? I think they are a unique take on how Ben has seen this event. Yes it is tragic, but that doesn’t mean he has to show, literally, tragedy.
    Let’s not demand some repetitive, homogenized coverage of this huge event with many angles and many details. Let a photographer be artistic and transcend the obvious and literal!

  4. I meant, let’s not demand some repetitive, homogenized coverage of this huge event… let it have its many angles and many details.

  5. Hello Ben,
    Love the title. Beautiful images..! Great work.
    I think that your play on the irony of the situation is what I understand it to be. And you certain have the technical capability to achieve that. Some animals sing a beautiful song before they die – and so will our planet.
    As humans, we tend to be great consumers but we never ask ourselves too much about some background and origin of our material comforts. We do not see the damage we cause to our environment while we pursue our creature comforts. We do not see that others suffer and die so that we can have oil. So if you have short beautiful images about something that is killing us, let it be one more thing we can hang on our walls. Only this time its at home – we cannot just cover our eyes and pretend its not there. Let us face both sides of our consumerism.
    Thanks Ben..!
    Best Wishes,

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