On November 25th, 2008, Daniel Belanger, a New York-based social entrepreneur, digital designer and accomplished outdoorsman, will set out on a solo expedition to photograph the Earth's most remote wildlife. Dubbed "The Wild Image Project," the carefully-planned journey will produce over 100,000 photographic images that will be shared with the public through books, multimedia projects and speaking engagements promoting the preservation of endangered species and natural settings.
The two-year expedition will be primarily undertaken by kayak, including a challenging 350 mile open-ocean crossing from Argentina to the Falkland Islands. A challenge that worries him a little but one that he’s preparing for by spending six contiguous days in his boat.
“This is not an ego trip, absolutely the opposite, it is a trip to reestablish a meaningful connection with Nature and Life,” Belanger says. “It’s a photography trip and not about breaking any records.”
A second phase of the project will cover a route starting in the Bonin Islands and continuing to Japan, the Kuril Islands and finally the Aleutian Islands. A third phase will cover more southern hemisphere destinations including: South Georgia, Tristan Da Cunha, Prince Edward, Crozet, Kerguelen, Heard, Macquarie, and Auckland.
An expert outdoorsman with 15-years of extreme weather camping and survival experience, Belanger, age 34, has spent considerable time physically preparing to meet the challenges of this unprecedented convergence of art, adventure and activism. He’s got to train. He’s planning on taking two camera bodies and three lenses in his kayak in addition to the staples: rice, water and power bars. But all the hard work is for the cause.
"The goal of the Wild Image Project is to educate the public on the existence of exotic and endangered species that play an essential role in complex ecosystems that are outside the general populations' consciousness," said Belanger.
"I've traveled around the world and seen some of the most amazing sights. My objective is to motivate others and alter their perspective on global issues by aesthetically presenting information and ideas that stimulate engagement, involvement and transformation."
Belanger is not a newcomer to the world of social engagement. He is the founder of the New York-based House of Jimmu, an organization that promotes awareness on the crucial importance that good nutrition and nature play in the lives of children and their future as adults. He is also the founder of Ibrido, an online magazine and blog that serves as an electronic platform for positive social change.
Images from the Wild Image Project will be showcased in several multi-media photo essays and books that are designed to inspire viewers to raise their consciousness about the future. Images will predominately be of wildlife, with special focus on endangered species and difficult-to-photograph subjects in their natural habitat.
The Wild Image Project has been made possible by generous contributions from socially conscious individuals and corporations whose monetary, in-kind and product donations have funded the first phase of the project. Early sponsors of the Wild Image Project include Tiderace Kayak, Kokatat, Brunton, Lendal, Suunto, SOG, North Water, Snap Dragon Design, Underwater Kinetics, FoxFury, Aquapac, and LaCie.