In 2009, I became the Southeast Asia photo editor for an environmental organization: Greenpeace. It wasn’t easy for me, since I knew I will be working with many professional photographers working in different countries, with different nationalities, coming from different cultures and styles. Through them, I got to learn a lot. And yes, I am still learning every day.

For Greenpeace, images are a powerful tool for telling our stories and our campaigns, for getting our messages out to our audiences through traditional media and social media. So I have to be careful in commissioning each photographer, making sure that he or she can deliver what we need and understand our campaigns. Our photo requirements are quite complex as these have to cater to different needs.

In every assignment, I have to set high expectations on the photographers we commission, and I always look forward to their images. Images that can move people. Through our photographers, we get visuals that empower communities as well as inspire others to take action.

This World Environment Day (June 5), I look back to photos that really amused me with how each photographer catches the perfect moment with his or her subjects. Images that really move me. Visuals that are really experiential. Documents of time that make me feel like I’m actually in the middle of the action.

Images show the beauty of our forests as well as the terror of their destruction. Images can show with fewer words how we have become addicted to fossil fuels, and how this addiction has led to climate change. Images show how our relationship with our oceans are both beautiful and terrible. Southeast Asia is very rich in biodiversity, but we ourselves are destroying it.

I hope that on World Environment Day and beyond, we can all reflect and ponder on what we can do to give our earth some time to breath from all the destruction and devastation, and rethink our children’s future. My kids might want to take the same beautiful pictures in their time, but I also hope that they won’t to have to shoot the same terrible subjects that we have to right now. 

Grace Duran-Cabus is the Images Producer for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.