Jan Richard Heinicke
Melting Point

In the middle of June 2019, climate researcher Steffen Olsen tweeted a photo of an expedition in the north of Greenland. This photo, which was shared thousands of times, shows sled dogs running through ankle-deep water under a bright blue sky. Olsen was travelling over the visibly disappearing sea ice. No region in the world is currently heating up as quickly as the Arctic, where warming is twice or even – in some places – four times the global average. Over the last 20 years, the loss of ice on Greenland has quadrupled. Along with the disappearing sea ice, climate researchers are most concerned about Greenland’s ice sheet. Photographer Jan Richard Heinicke accompanied a team of marine researchers who in July 2019 set sail from Newfoundland aboard the German research ship Maria S. Merian to conduct a three-week expedition along the east coast of Greenland to find out how to predict the rise in sea levels and investigate the consequences of climate change.

  • Climate
  • Greenland
  • Loneliness
  • Science
  • The Environment

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The photographer Jan Richard Heinicke shares some background information concerning his project Melting Point and how he came upon this.

3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

Before I started studying Journalism, I completed a programme in Urban Planning, where I internalised scientific projects from which I can still benefit now. On the other hand, I also realised that urban planning can often only respond to developments. This led to my decision to get involved on “the other side” and use my own methods to search for problems and solutions. Photographic examination of the world helps me satisfy my curiosity. Whenever I notice from publications or exhibitions that my work has captured a current zeitgeist, it is a great compliment to me and an even greater motivator.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

Climate change is an ever-present topic, and many photographers address it in various ways. Some accompany activists to open-pit mines; others document deforestation in the rainforest or the effects of climate change at the local level. As there is still doubt concerning the reality of climate change, I’m interested in the scientific side of things, in presenting evidence to counteract misinformation. This is why I was so happy when a journalist friend asked me whether I would like to sail with him on a research ship. Of course, I didn’t have to think about it too long!

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

Journalism is in an interesting situation right now. More and more people have access to information and pictures and can become creators themselves. At the same time, people have less trust in the traditional media. This means that freelance journalists have an important task: they must gather information from various sources, bundle it and translate it for an audience. I don’t believe that they are bound to purely photographic considerations here. Rather, they can make use of other disciplines and cooperate with other subject areas to make their statements clear and effectively reinforce them.

The booklet contains the general and scientific information of the journey aboard the Maria S. Merian.

Curated by Daniel Rodríguez

© for all photos by the photographers
© for videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1991 in the Ruhr Valley, Germany
Jan Richard Heinicke first studied Urban and Regional Planning, which sent him on travels throughout France, Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries. Since 2015, he has been studying Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts. He has specialised in the topics of agriculture, modern technology and the field of tension between nature and science. His project “Melting Point” won the VGH Photo Prize in 2019.


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