Sebastian Copeland: The Waking Giant

By Contributing Editor, Sara Ost


It’s not only the treacherous cold. Or the vital necessity of carefully consuming monotonous rations. Or the reality that you’re not likely to see another living thing in this frigid land for days that stretch into weeks. It’s not even that you’ve already traversed this vast expanse unlike any other, that you know its power, each time documenting its awesome, ancient mysteries anew. It’s that it is changing irreversibly deep under your very feet.




Sebastian Copeland is an environmental activist, explorer, lecturer, author and award-winning photographer, filmmaker and writer. His latest book, ANTARCTICA: The Waking Giant, is based upon his most recent polar expedition and the result is a work of strident beauty illustrating humanity’s most urgent cause, climate change.



It’s his fourth photography book to feature this colossal continent (though Copeland’s focus is on the poles, and in particular, Antarctica, he’s also journeyed the wild stretches of Australia and beyond). Copeland’s works have garnered significant critical praise and no shortage of awards. As of publishing time, The Waking Giant has just earned one of photography’s most prestigious, the International Photography Award, for Best Book Photographer of the Year 2020.



We’ve long followed Copeland’s work at Coco Eco (he was previously featured as our cover story for The Wildlife Issue in May 2011 and again in 2013 in our Men of the Year issue), and we were delighted to sit down for a video chat to discuss his latest endeavor. This being the era of Covid-19, we conducted our conversation via the web conferencing technology Zoom—across 9 time zones, no less—forgive the format and enjoy.



Our interview ranges from sober acknowledgment of the realities of our current time (less severely; just try conducting any sort of book tour right now, never mind a magazine interview), to the philosophical and ecological. Copeland shares fascinating details about what it’s like to embark upon such an important expedition and also offers generous insights from his experiences as an activist—one who, as it turns out, began his career in film, cutting his creative teeth in fashion and entertainment.



However, this multitalented soul says he always knew he was going to be an explorer. A seasoned citizen of the world and a self-aware bloke, the November “Man We Love” observes that his early transition from more commercial work to activism—and accolades—was always his calling.



We’re all the better for it. Thank you, Sebastian! (Be sure not to miss this four-star reviewed book, and keep up with his adventures on Instagram, too.)


Photography Courtesy of Sebastian Copeland

Watch the interview:


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