SPILL by @BeltraStudio

When we think about the history of iconic events that created a shock in the public mind that influenced the development of environmental ideas several key moments come to mind. The Three Mile Nuclear Accident (1979), Bhopal (1984), Chernobyl (1986), Exxon Valdez oil spill (1989), Kuwait Oil Fires (1991), Fukushima (2011). One of those disasters was the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010, documented by the photographer, Daniel Beltra.

The Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico was one of the largest in history with 780.000 cubic meters of oil polluting the vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico. The artist decided to expose the situation and make the environmental impacts known to the wider world. The images were taken from a plane and present a truly sublime picture. Wildly changing colours and reflections, man-made shapes bringing destruction to the marine wildlife, food chains and ultimately people and the tourist economy of the region.

In 2013 Daniel Beltra published a book, entitled ‘SPILL’, which is a beautifully produced album documenting the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It is still available on Amazon but might not last for very long as artist books tend to have small print runs: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spill-Daniel-Beltra-Barbara-Bloemink/dp/0957427247/

Daniel Beltra received several environmental photography awards:


2006: 3rd prize, World Press Photo awards, nature series category, for his work on the Amazon Rainforest drought.

2006: Golden Award in the China Press International Photo (CHIPP) Contest, for his work on the Amazon Rainforest drought.

2007: 2nd prize, World Press Photo awards, contemporary issues category, for a photo of tropical deforestation in the Amazon.

2009: “Global Vision Award”, Pictures of the Year International.

2011: winner, Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the “Deeper Perspective of the Year” from the International Photography Awards for his photographs from the Gulf Oil spill.

2012: shortlisted for the 2012 Prix Pictet

2013: Spain’s BBVA Foundation granted Beltrá an award for Knowledge Dissemination and Communication in Biodiversity Conservation.

2014: First place in the Nature and Environment category in 2014 by the CHIPP contest.

2018: Nominated for World Press Photo of the Year, World Press Photo awards, Amsterdam


Beltra, D. (2013) Spill, Gost Books


(c) Daniel Beltra




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