Climate Visuals – Interview with Peter Bitzer

This interview originally appeared on Climate Visuals as part of my consulting work.


On our quest to build a new visual language for climate change, Climate Visuals is partnering with top photo agencies around the world to bring you imagery that showcase our principles for good visual communication.

One of our partners is laif, a leading German photo agency for photojournalism, magazine and travel photography.

We took a few moments to speak with Peter Bitzer, the Managing Director, to get his thoughts on climate change communication and the barriers we face in improving it. Peter has been working in the photo industry since 1989 and has been the Managing Director of laif for 24 years.

The visual representation of climate change has changed a lot in those years and he feels that image users and creators are becoming more discerning.

“There is a growing interest [in the climate issue], especially in the last two to three years. Not only are media outlets using one picture to illustrate the issue, but we see a demand for more in-depth reportages of the various aspects of climate change,” says Peter.

“This includes reportages not only on the causes of climate change, but on the consequences as well. The more a reportage can visually explain new aspects of the climate issue, the more the chance it has of getting published.”

However, he still feels that most media outlets in Germany could better explore the depth that imagery and reportage can contribute to their publications, and in turn their audience.

That is why laif has partnered with Climate Visuals. The need to educate and develop a new visual language lies with both the user and the seller and Peter hopes that initiatives like the Climate Visuals laif collection can help with this education.

An extract from laif brochure
An extract from laif brochure

Laif has also put a focus on exhibitions, books and brochures (see extract of brochure above) about climate change.

Peter hopes that these projects will help inform clients about the choices available when they need to illustrate climate change. This focus has been driven by the submissions from their photographers and from the industry demand.

Peter understands this as a common sense business decision as the world comes to recognize the challenge of climate change.

However, Peter is convinced that the key to more diverse visuals on climate has to come from public demand:  “If the interest in climate change is strong enough to put all the aspects of climate change on the table, there will also be interest in the media to use new, more compelling imagery.”

Banner image credit: Ulutuncok/laif – Afforestation in Ethiopia

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