Drought Study 2015


Wells Fargo Fresno State Drought-Economic Impact Study, Still Photography

The Wells Fargo Fresno State Drought-Economic Impact Study examined the impact of drought on the California Central Valley region, giving statistics and perspectives from economic, human, environmental, engineering and agricultural aspects. By adding the element of still photography to the study, I worked to give a visual perspective to this effort, illustrating in visual form some of the effects of drought, and communities’ responses to these conditions.

While many of the effects of the drought, such as the depletion of underground aquifers, and statistical variations in peoples’ income, employment opportunities, etc. could not be photographed directly; the medium of photography can illustrate individual examples of drought’s effect, and provide an artistic, metaphoric interpretation of the effects of drought and changing climatic conditions in the area. Photographs showing the physical infrastructure of the Central Valley’s Water delivery & transportation systems, such as waterways, aqueducts, and reservoirs, can visually represent the nature and scale of these systems. Photographs of people and drought-affected communities can’t represent generalized trends or statistics, but they can show individuals’ experiences, and give visual life to the facts and figures. Photographs of the landscape and land use cannot prove or disprove trends on land use statistics, such as how many acres of agricultural land have been idled due to insufficient water supply, but they can illustrate the effects of drought on farmland and ecological systems in individual instances, give a visual impression of regional land use and agricultural practices, and provide insight on how a changing climate could affect these factors.

I made photographs of all of these aspects of water’s effects on life in the Central Valley, directly and indirectly, hoping that these images will strengthen viewers’ understanding of life in the area as it is affected by the current drought.

The photographs were presented at the Drought Study Conference at California State Fresno in April 2015.