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Digital Rainforest | Charlie


Charlie Hamilton James is a wildlife photographer, cameraman and TV presenter. Ever since receiving his first camera at the age of thirteen, he’s had a passion for capturing beautiful shots of the world’s creatures (although, he does admit having a particular soft spot for otters!) Aged sixteen he started working as a cameraman with David Attenborough, and has worked on many BBC natural history documentaries since. He runs Halcyon Media, producing wildlife documentaries with his wife Philippa.

Charlie’s sought-after skills in filming and photography have led him to being involved several projects in the rainforest, exploring its rich wildlife and pristine environments. During these visits, he built a deep love for the rainforests, and a desire to protect them for future generations. Charlie’s numerous visits haven’t been without glitches though. Last year, he caught Leishmaniasis, a tropical flesh eating disease. To read more about Charlie, and to see some of his previous work, visit his website.

When Charlie received a phone call from his friend Rob asking him if he wanted to buy a piece of the rainforest, Charlie didn’t hesitate. He jumped at the opportunity, thinking that buying that piece of land would be enough to stop illegal miners and loggers from pursuing their activities.

L1005005-2560x1440However when Charlie arrived in Peru to visit the land he’d bought over the phone, he discovered it wasn’t quite the green idyll he was expecting. Instead he’d bought land already destroyed by loggers.

There were few trees or animals but there was a field of illegal coca, the plant used to make cocaine and there was a camp with an illegal logger living in it. Charlie realised his decision to buy a patch of tropical rainforest, thousands of miles from home was an irrational one. But he wasn’t going to give up. He set up his studio and got to work photographing the wildlife on his land.

Figuring out what to do with the land was trickier. Over the course of a year Charlie travelled the western Amazon living and working with people – Shaman, illegal loggers, gold miners, tribes, anyone who could give him a new and more insightful understanding of the Amazon. Charlie’s journey was documented by KEO films who made it into a TV series.

Read more about Charlie’s adventure on the Guardian website.