Michael Bednar for Mision Gaia

By: Ruth Remudaro 

Dry Forest in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders, 2015

Dry Forest in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders, 2015

     Having read a few articles both online and in a magazine for Photographers Without Borders, Michael Bednar was inspired to give back. 

     Bednar, a British Columbian native, was sent to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia, alongside our Creative Director Megan Ewing to photograph its diversity and beauty and to document the work of Mision Gaia. 

     Mision Gaia is an organization that works with rural communities, local schools, government and private organizations in Minca, Sierra Nevada to strengthen educational and environmental practices and development of sustainable tourism. 

Michael Bednar in action - Minca, Colombia - Megan Ewing, Photographers without Borders

Michael Bednar in action - Minca, Colombia - Megan Ewing, Photographers without Borders

What work did you do in Colombia

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia is second only to the Amazon in terms of biodiversity even though it is ten times smaller than the Amazon basin. Colombia has more bird species than any other country on earth as well, so I wanted to make sure I was able to capture this diversity. 

One of the many Hummingbird breeds in minca, colombia - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders, 2015

One of the many Hummingbird breeds in minca, colombia - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders, 2015

I also visited coffee plantations both small and large, and some smaller farmer operations. As the city of Santa Marta at the base of the mountains grows and people settle further up into the mountains, the biodiversity of the region is increasingly under threat. The surge in tourism has also had a large impact which I attempted to photograph these aspects as well. 

Finally, I photographed the recycling programs that were being implemented as well as the actions to improve animal welfare. 

Mision Gaia collecting recycling from the town of Minca to sort - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders 2015

Mision Gaia collecting recycling from the town of Minca to sort - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders 2015

What was something you won’t forget about the trip?

The insects! I have never been bitten as badly as I was in Colombia! I will also always remembers the sights, sounds and smells of the beautiful region, the warm and friendly welcome of the Colombian people. 

Have you ever been on a project like this before?

Yes, I have worked with several non-profit organizations both at home and abroad on a variety of different topics. 

What’s next for you?

I will be working on a personal project here in British Columbia. I am also starting to lead instructional photography tours in the beautiful place that I call home. Finally, I am preparing to go to Nicaragua at the end of the year to photograph for another non-profit organization

Top of the Sierra Nevada - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders, 2015

Top of the Sierra Nevada - Michael Bednar, Photographers Without Borders, 2015


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