BEHIND THE PHOTO

'This is the most heartbreaking image I've ever made'

The story behind Troy Moth's "Invisible Horseman," a photograph of a bear in front of a garbage fire at a landfill in Northern Ontario.

Inside Troy Moth's photograph of a bear in front of a garbage fire

Troy Moth takes us inside his incredible photograph of a bear at a landfill. 1:25

When B.C.-based photographer Troy Moth visited a landfill in Northern Ontario to work on a documentary film, he had no idea that he would take one of the most poignant photographs of his life there.

The photograph Moth took that day shows a bear standing motionless in front of a pit at the landfill waiting for a garbage fire to go down. When Moth posted the photo — which he titled "Invisible Horseman" — on his Instagram, he described the feelings that the image brings out for him in the caption, saying: "This is the most heartbreaking image I've ever made. I teared up when shooting it, again when editing it and on several occasions just thinking about it."

(Invisible Horseman by Troy Moth)

The detail in the photograph that stands out most for Moth is what he describes as the "the calm and sedated state of the bear,"

"The bear sat motionless in this position for several minutes as I stood no more than 20 feet away," Moth explains. "The bear never looked at me or showed any reaction to what was happening around it. And also the juxtaposition between the beautiful light and color palette and the ugly reality that reveals itself."

If someone sees this photograph and starts to question our impact on the natural world and all its inhabitants, then that's a win in my books.- Troy Moth, photographer

Moth, who is known for his fine art photography as well as his Instagram account where he documents his adventures with his dog, took the photo in July 2017 and waited months before posting it online, saying, "I wasn't, and I'm still not sure, how I feel about it."

So what can we take away from this photograph?

"I don't know if I can say what we can learn from this, as I'm still trying to figure that out myself," Moth says. "If someone sees this photograph and starts to question our impact on the natural world and all its inhabitants, then that's a win in my books."

Take a closer look at Troy Moth's "Invisible Horseman" in the above video, part of a new series at CBC Arts that tells the stories behind the photos.

About the Author

Mercedes Grundy

Mercedes Grundy has been producing videos for CBC Arts and Exhibitionists since 2015. She is a unabashed Leonardo DiCaprio enthusiast with an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC. And while her love for the arts does not discriminate, she openly acknowledges she is a horrible dancer.

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