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Lava Boat Tour, Hawai’i 2017 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Work / Photography

“Go outside. It’s good for you”: Lucas Foglia’s breathtaking and challenging series Human Nature

“Go outside. It’s good for you,” replies photographer Lucas Foglia when asked what he has learned (and what he hopes others will learn) from his series Human Nature. Currently on display at Foam Museum, Amsterdam, and recently published into a book by Nazraeli Press, the series is at times genuinely breathtaking in its portrayal of stories linking people, nature and science.

Lucas spends his time travelling the world taking photographs but is currently based in San Francisco. Despite this, it was his childhood on a small farm, third miles east of New York City that inspired Human Nature. “The forest that bordered the farm was a wild place to play and was ignored by our neighbours who commuted to Manhattan. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded our fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods,” he recalls. In the hurricane’s wake, Lucas witnessed increasing coverage on the news from scientists linking the storm to climate change caused by human activity. “I realised that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on Earth unaltered by people,” he tells It’s Nice That.

From this moment, Lucas set about documenting cities, forests, farms, deserts, ice fields and oceans as well as government programmes that bring people back into contact with nature, all at a time when Americans “on average, spend 93 percent of their lives indoors.” Human Nature also features neuroscientists researching the beneficial effects of spending time outside and climate scientists measuring the degree to which human activity affects the atmosphere.

Human Nature is both shocking and beautiful as a series. It flits between images of lava cascading into the ocean in Hawai’i and the “living walls” of urban Singapore, always presenting a complex meeting of people and their surroundings. “I want my photographs to challenge the concept that humans and nature operate in opposition, while simultaneously highlighting the relentlessly uneasy, absurdly comedic integrations of our technologies in the natural world,” Lucas explains.

As a body of work, Human Nature is a rarity in that it truly has something to say. The images are provocative and start conversations, whether it be because of their candour or their optimism. “We’re part of nature,” Lucas offers, adding that, “even with all our technology, we are vulnerable to the storms, droughts, heat waves and freezes that result from climate change. So support science, programmes, and policies that work towards a healthy environment – it is both a human right and our responsibility.”

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Esme Swimming, Parkroyal on Pickering, Singapore 2014 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Maddie with Invasive Water Lilies, North Carolina 2008 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Rachel Mud Bathing, Virginia 2009 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Madelaine in a Study of Stress Reduction in Virtual Reality, Bosch Lab, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden 2015 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Wildfire, California 2015 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Trent, Torrey, and Taylor, Cattle Ranch, Nevada 2013 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Alicia Clearing Land for Farming, California 2012 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Madaya, Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah 2014 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Charles Looking at the Sun, Space Weather Prediction Center, Colorado 2016 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Elk at the Game and Fish Department, Wyoming 2010 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Chuck Taking Sample Readings at the Geysers, the World’s Largest Geothermal Field, California 2015 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Kenzie inside a Melting Glacier, Juneau Icefield Research Program, Alaska 2016 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Icebergs from the Gilkey Glacier, Alaska 2016 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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House Construction after a Lava Flow, Hawai’i 2016 © Lucas Foglia. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery