Ian Lockwood's Biography

Ian Lockwood is an educator, photographer, and environmentalist with a passionate interest in the natural history, geography and cultures of South Asia. The Lockwood clan is originally from the Boston area but has had an enduring love affair with India and its neighboring countries.

Ian spent his formative years studying and exploring in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu where he attended Kodaikanal International School. He was uninspired with classroom learning but benefited from outdoor exposure and frequent adventures with his friends in the hills. Mentors, such as the naturalists Rom & Zai Whitaker, artists Bruce & Ann Peck and filmmakers Johnny & Louise Riber, taught him to let passion guide important life choices. In 1988 he went to the United States to study international relations and development economics at the College of Wooster. After graduation from college he worked with several South Asian NGOs on issues of biodiversity and sustainability. Finding his niche in education he completed a MEd from the College of New Jersey and an MSc from Lesley University. He started his teaching career at AIS/Dhaka where he taught physical education, environmental science, social studies and photography for six years. Later he spent three years teaching and initiating sustainability initiatives at the Mahindra United World College of India near Pune. For the last ten years he has been living with his family in Sri Lanka where he teaches IB Diploma Geography and Environmental Systems at the Overseas School of Colombo.

The timeless work of Ansel Adams, emphasizing landscapes in detailed black and white, was a significant influence on Ian’s father who shared this approach with his son. Together they envisioned doing justice to southern India’s mountain landscape using similar approaches. While in college Ian assisted the campus photographer Matt Dilyard and studied the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Mary Ellen Mark and other notable social documentary photographers. Indian photographers such as Ragu Rai, MY Gorpade and TNA Perumal have inspired his work. Ian’s interest in wildlife and biodiversity trickled down from his father who has a PhD in entomology and nurtured orphaned chimpanzees while serving in the Peace Corps. In the early 1990s Ian motorcycled and trekked through the hill ranges and forests of the southern Western Ghats. He was awed by the splendor of the landscape but concerned for the future of the ancient mountains in the face of increasing anthropocentric pressure. In 1993 after a rewarding visit to Kerala’s High Range, he became fixated on documenting the little-known landscapes and endangered species of the Western Ghats. This eventually lead to a series of magazine publications and exhibitions that aimed to raise awareness about, what was then, a little known area of India.

Ian’s writing and photographs have appeared in several Indian, Asian and European publications including Geo, Asian Geographic, Geographische Rundschau, Frontline, Gallerie, Outlook Traveler and Sanctuary Asia. Ian’s first solo photographic exhibition entitled Alo Chaiya (Sunlight & Shadows) was held at the Drik Gallery in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2000. His exhibition Western Ghats: Portrait & Panorama was showcased at New Delhi’s India International Centre and Mumbai’s Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in 2001. Both the Bangladesh and India exhibitions sought to raise public awareness about conservation themes in little known areas using hand printed images, text and maps.

With the decline in film and the new dominance of digital media, Ian’s work has shifted in technical presentation while staying focused on the same themes explored in the early exhibitions and published work. He has developed an interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) and utilizes these tools to better understand the ecosystems that are the focus of his photography, writing and teaching. In 2011 he exhibited digital images and maps at Colombo’s Barefoot Gallery in a show entitled Paths to the Peak: Ecology, Landscape & Culture on Sri Lanka’s Sacred Mountain. The exhibition mixed both color and black & white media and has been followed up with illustrated lectures.

We live in an age of unprecedented environmental stress linked to human population growth and consumption. Themes of ecology, landscape and culture in South Asia continue to be the focus of Ian’s photography and writing while his teaching highlights ideas of sustainability. The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot remain a special area of interest. In the last decade Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands and India’s Western Ghats have both gained significant recognition from government bodies, UNESCO and various conservation organizations. The two areas share remarkably similar landscapes and ecology and their linked biogeography is a theme that Ian continues to explore.

Ian's happiest childhood moments were spent wondering and exploring the less disturbed corners of Bangladesh's shal forests and India's southern Western Ghats. These experiences laid the foundation for his work as a photographer and educator.