Drowning in Plastic – this is my critical photographic view on modern society

Conceptual photography
(Image credit: Peter East-Hall)

Photography holds the power to awaken the mind, ignite curiosity and deliver strong messages through artistic imagery. That is precisely the purpose of this still created by photographer Peter East-Hall, who used a surreal approach to reflect upon the issue of consumerism prevailing in the world today. 

"Before taking this image, I was talking to the conceptual artist Lorrain Mailer about her installations, which focus on environmental responsibility," he said. 

"We spoke about how plastic is so widely used and is going to be in our environment for much longer than its use. This photograph relates to this topic, addressing how the extensive use of plastic is getting into the ecosystem, even into our bloodstream, and the consequent impact on our environment. I wanted the photograph to be dramatic, thought-provoking and visceral.

"I live near the English Channel, so we didn’t have to go far to find a location for this art installation. The shingle beach at Dungeness combined with the undisturbed sky offered the ideal background – it was a one-shot opportunity, the right weather, clouds and light. 

We used plastic from some packaging and my husband was the model. The wind was perfect that day, breathing life into the plastic material and adding dynamic movement and structure. However, the wind also presented a few challenges. We didn't want the plastic to be blown into the sea, so we had to work with the wind. To bring out the texture, light and folds of the plastic, I changed the image from color to black-and-white in Lightroom."

Conceptual photography
Peter East-Hall

Peter Easthall is a photographer and a member of the Societies of Photographers and the Ashford Visual Artists. He lives on Romney Marsh, near the village of Lydd on Sea in England, and has been passionate about photography since childhood. Peter enjoys creating art from his images and collaborating with other artists, taking inspiration from nature and often capturing things that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Tech details

Camera: Nikon D3400
Lens: Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR 
Aperture: f/6.3
Shutter speed: 1/250 sec
ISO: 200
Focal length: 55mm

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Kim Bunermann
Technique Editor

Kim is the Technique Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine. She specializes in architecture, still life and product photography and has a Master's degree in Photography and Media with a distinction from the FH Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. While studying, Kim came to the UK for an exchange term at the London College of Communication. She settled in the UK and began her career path by joining Future. Kim focuses on tutorials and creative techniques, and particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring photographers who concentrate on a range of fascinating subjects including women in photography, the climate crisis; the planet, its precious creatures and the environment.