As the weather rages outside, the wind blows, snow falls and then the sunshine comes back out, we can’t but help what is happening to the climate these days. Should we carry an umbrella, or wear a t-shirt? It’s hard to know on a daily basis anymore. It’s hard to know on an every-few-minutes basis anymore…

On January 3rd, as we all contemplated the end of the holidays, good news and cheer was to be found in figures and data which were released proving that 2014 had been a “massive year” for wind and solar power here in Scotland, with enough wind power generated in six of the months last year to power more than 100% of Scottish homes. You can read many more stunning statistics and good news here on the WWF Scotland website.


Neatly coinciding with this positive news a new Instagram feed was started, on January 1st, taking a look at climate change.  @EverydayClimateChange, started by James Whitlow Delano in Tokyo, and involves a total 37 photographers on 5 continents, aiming to bring attention to the perils we face through climate change, the causes of it, and the effect it has on our fragile planet. Very kindly I was asked to be one of the contributing photographers who will be posting images to the feed, which since it’s launch three weeks ago has already amassed a following of 2,900 regular viewers. I’ll be posting work from my assignments covering different environmental topics for Greenpeace, and also images from Scotland as our country leads the way forward with renewable energy and cutting the all harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking on Inside Climate News, photographer Ed Kashi, a contributor to National Geographic Magazine, said of the new project, “Climate change is such a loaded term, and the public dialogue is so disingenuous, so off the mark from the conversation we need to be having. Whether this project makes someone think about this more or spurs action, both are mini-victories that add up to systemic change. That’s what we need.”

The EverydayClimateChange project has also been written about on Photo District News, and a slideshow of work on The Guardian’s Environment pages.

Please take a look at the @EverydayClimateChange and if you’re on Instagram, please show your support and follow it to see stories from around the world by eminent photographers such as Paula Bronstein of Getty Images, Ed Kashi and Ron Haviv of VII photo agency, many from our friends at Panos Photos and many more. Many thanks.


Life After Fukushima

Up early in Glasgow, Scotland, today (life as a freelance editorial photographer demands it), and I see The Guardian has run a little slideshow of images from one of my last assignments in Japan, a trip to Fukushima region with Justin McCurry to report on how people are coping with life in these post-Fukushima disaster days (although it’s hardly post-Fukushima as the radiation fallout remains…).

Justin and I visited independent sake brewer Chieko Sasaki, an elderly woman who was evacuated from Iitate village due to radiation fears. She is now rebuilding her independent home brewed sake business in the town to which she has had to move. But she can no longer use the rice from her old town due to radiation contamination, she now has to source rice from elsewhere.

We also spent a very early morning with the fishermen from Soma, north of where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is. We watched, interviewed and photographed as five boats landed their catch of octopus (monsterous, disgusting looking ones) and large whelks. All 5 tonnes or so were landed, and then get radiation checks before going on sale locally and as of last week even on sale in Tokyo fish market. The Guardian has put together a slideshow of these images, and from the other stories, in a Life After Fukushima photographs slideshow. You can see a larger set of these Fukushima octopus fisherman and radiation testing photographs here.

Japanese fisherman land their catch of octopus, and large whelks, at the fishing port which has barely recovered from the March 2011 tsunami, in the Matsukawaura district of Soma, Japan. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2012, all rights reserved.

And the final story of Justin and I’s trip was to Tsuchiyu Onsen town to report on their plans to use their naturally occurring hot waters to power a geothermal energy plant to supply the town with it’s electricity needs, thus making them less dependent on nuclear power.

So those were my last assignments in Japan for The Guardian, now here in Scotland there is plenty of work to be done as a freelance portrait and editorial photographer, there’s plenty to be photographed and reported on, plenty to see. The day beckons.

Behind the Scenes with the Greenpeace Tokyo Two

As I mentioned on a previous blog post here I’ve been working on and off this year on photographic assignment in Aomori, northern Japan, for Greenpeace covering the ongoing trial of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki – known collectively as the ‘Tokyo Two‘.

In that previous post I talked of how I was trying to cover the court case photographically and how to keep it fresh, and about shooting a behind the scenes set of images in between the more newsworthy moments. And here it is, finally up on the Greenpeace website, a small slideshow of photographs of ‘Behind The Scenes with the Tokyo Two’. Not my exact edit or sequencing, but here it is none the less. You can see a larger selection of photographs of Greenpeace’s Tokyo Two court case here.

And whilst you’re on their site please take a look around at the various other slideshows and multimedia pieces.  There is a lot of good photographic work by my colleagues and also I have a few images dotted around the site in various places.

M is also for Mibu

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing and dining at the exclusive, private member only dining club of ‘Mibu’, run by Hiroshi Ishida and his wife Tomiko, here in Ginza, Tokyo.

Now over the years I’ve photographed in many restaurants, and a few years ago felt it was too many and I came to hate ‘restaurant jobs’, I even turned some down, but this one wasn’t so bad. It’s not every day you get to shoot for a magazine- “only on the condition that he (me, the photographer) dines” the owners said-  in a restaurant claimed as one of the best by Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal, themselves men who know their way round a kitchen.

I’d be warned by the writer, and the picture desk, that the decor was plain, and it sounded bad, but a writer’s plain is not always a photographer’s plain, and I found it an enjoyable place to shoot. And to eat. And yes, it’s possible to shoot and eat at the same time, sometimes like this occasion it’d be rude not to. A classic eat and shoot, and leave.

As it was the month of May (the month in which seasons change, and colds/flu are rife) the menu consisted of vegetables and herbs which were good for fighting infection, for detoxifying the body. All course were served with a purpose, on plates specifically chosen. The decor of the room all had meaning fitting to that month’s menu. And only eight diners present. At the end we were all given bags of food, the left over raw ingredients from the kitchens to take home, they like to waste nothing , nor keep it over for the next day.

You can only dine in Mibu if you’re one of the 250 or so members, or if you’re invited by one of the members. It’s a small place, up some decrepit stairs, in a decrepit, non distinct building. All in all an interesting place- even when Mrs Ishida comes and pokes around in your dish with her fingers, to better arrange it for you, to let you fully appreciate the beauty of what you are about to eat. And here’s what I ate, all 8 courses of it, as kindly noted and emailed to me by Emi, my assistant:

Sake served at the beginning of the meal.
1)    decorated with mugwort wreath, steamed rice with broad beans, which is slightly vinegared, served in the jade plate.  Jade plate is told to deliver good chi.
2)    dashi soup with soft daikon radish, arrowroot, udo edible plant, Japanese pepper (kinome) and azalea.
3)    sashimi: bonito, flounder, tough shell fish called Aoyagi with radish garnish on ice.
4)    Tempura with slightly salt:    a sillaginoid fish (kisu), buds of Japanese angelica tree (tara no me).
5)    Nimono (simmered foods):    a flowering fern, stem of sweet potato, fried tofu in dashi soup.
6)    Yakimono (Grilled foods):    a greenling with a bud of Japanese prickly ash (or Japanese pepper).  We slapped those leaves with hands three times to release the aroma, so that we can smell it better. Then sprinkled them on grilled greenling fish, then eat together.  Roasted tea was served with it.
7)    dessert:    natural strawberry. The inside seperated from the outside then mixed separately like a terrine, together with meringue. Served in 150 years old baccarat glasses.
8)    drink:    hot water with flag iris leaves with arrowroot mochi- which is kind of edible medicine. Flag Iris is renowned for its effect for dementia and stomachache.

Not quite a pot noodle I’m sure you’ll agree.

Read what the writer, Michael Booth (who has a food blog worth a read), wrote for the magazine, and accompanying his words are a small selection of my photographs of Mibu restaurant.