Words and photographs by Christian Cassiel
Photographer Christian Cassiel travels to the Ecuadorian Amazon to document the life-saving work of the station, which serves as a platform for the voices of the Amazon, in a series of intimate portraits.
Last year, while traveling through Central and South America, I received an invitation to visit Tiputini Biodiversity Station, a scientific field research center embedded in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The station is strategically located within the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, renowned as one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth. During my four-day stay, I documented the facility and its devoted team, who carry out vital work in the education and conservation of the lowland Amazon Rainforest.
I was drawn to the idea of exploring a more intimate side of the station, and as I dived deeper into my work, I got to learn more about each member of staff and the invaluable contributions they make. While I’m accustomed to working on location, the opportunity to create portraits against a backdrop that was so ecologically rich was truly an unparalleled experience. It allowed me to capture not only the individuals themselves, but also the unique environment in which they work and the harmonious relationship they share with it.
The station itself was built in 1994, and its location chosen carefully to be far away from any oil concessions. However, over the years, oil and mining companies have advanced further into the Amazon, posing a threat not only to the station’s work but also to the homes of countless Indigenous populations.
As the station is situated on land belonging to the native Kichwa tribe, they have granted the facility stewardship of the area for a specific period. The renewal of this agreement hinges on the station’s ability to nurture positive community relations through various initiatives that engage with local tribes. The station serves as a platform for the voices of the Amazon, promoting traditional knowledge passed down through generations while also emphasizing the critical importance of preserving the delicate Amazonian ecosystem.
I’ve realized that to create a sincere visual narrative of this world is a journey that requires time, a deep appreciation of the rainforests, Indigenous cultures, and an understanding of the complex political issues that impact them. As I continue to develop this project, I hope I can inspire others to contribute in their own way to protect these lands for years to come.