An insight into one of the most extraordinary places on earth, Amazônia highlights the rainforest’s degradation

The first time Tommaso went to the Amazon was for an assignment on the impact of the Belo Monte dam, a hydroelectric dam complex on the northern part of the Xingu River in the state of Pará, Brazil. “I had many cliches in my mind before leaving,” he explains, he imagined lush green lands and indigenous tribes, but upon arriving in the Amazon, “I quickly discovered that reality was very different, much more complicated and intriguing,” he says. Once there, Tommaso realised that the Amazon is not only a forest, but also a land of cities and people. After that trip, he felt a personal connection with the rainforest and decided to start work on the long term project that would become Amazônia.
His work recounts the damage inflicted on the region because of deforestation, illegal gold mines, drugs farming and more. In turn, the São Paulo-based photojournalist raises awareness on the Amazon’s degradation due to climate change and human activity while also offering some lighter moments, inviting the viewer to see what daily life is like in one of the most incredible places on earth.
The Amazon is home to a whopping 70 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, and accounts for half of the remaining tropical forests on the planet. But due to rapid development and economic activity in the area, its ecosystems are heavily under threat. With this in mind, the Carmignac Photojournalism Award, now in its tenth edition, decided to dedicate its accolade to the cause, recognising Tommaso Protti’s striking black and white photography.
Amazônia takes us through this extraordinary region which maps approximately five and a half million kilometre squares of land across Brazil, Colombia, Peru and other South American countries. For Tommaso, his interest in photography began with a degree in Political Science where research and deep study became a key part of his practice, something he incorporates into his photography today. His first photographic venture took him to southeast Turkey where he’d been researching the geopolitics of water in the Middle East for his degree thesis. There, he realised an attraction to the idea of being a witness, “to be in the field,” he tells us, “to meet and talk with people and to try and capture it all in my photos.”

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