A young Tibetan girl in the town of Maxin, in central Qinghai Province. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A golden smile on the Tibetan Plateau. A Tibetan nomad shows off his gold tooth to me as we explore the highland grasslands. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
The town of 'Goman,' a resettlement community. Over 1,000 Tibetan nomads have been resettled in this community. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A Tibetan man throws small pieces of paper, called 'wind horses,' into the air. The practice is for wishing travellers good luck on their journey. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Waste and refuse cover the surface of a river in the town of Sershul. Many towns on the plateau suffer from severe water pollution. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Sun shining down on the Tibetan Plateau today. Prayer flags dance in the wind. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Tibetan prayer flags fly near a large glacier on the Amne Machen mountain. Most of China's glaciers are retreating as a result of climate change. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Clouds parting at 5000m above sea-level, northern Sichuan Province. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Travelling through dry and arid canyons in the north-east of the plateau. As temperatures rise, desertification grips the region. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Tibetans harvesting corn on the side of a mountain in northern Sichuan. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A Tibetan man glances over his shoulder, in the town of Maxin on the Tibetan Plateau. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A Tibetan boy stands near a large pile of refuse that has accumulated under a bridge in the Tibetan town of Donda. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
"The Frog & Bottle" - A waterway on the Tibetan Plateau, in northern Sichuan. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A Tibetan woman's ponytail. A touch of red on blue. Qinghai Province. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A Tibetan monk taking an exam, outside of the Sershul monastery, in northern Sichuan. Monks are tested on their knowledge of Buddhist philosophy. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A family sit on a valley wall overlooking the town of Zaduo, one of the most remote Tibetan towns on the plateau. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
The Yellow River winds its way across central China. It originates on the Tibetan Plateau, supplying water to the north of the country. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
A Tibetan bracelet. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
The river runs orange. A small tributary of the Yellow River. The river gets its colour from silt made of mica, quartz and feldspar. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.
Tibetan prayer flags create a kaleidoscope of colour, near the source of the Yellow River. Image by Sean Gallagher. China, 2012.

"Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us" -- Oscar Wilde

I've never been one for keeping a diary. My parents encouraged me to keep one from a young age, but numerous half-filled notebooks are evidence of my failed attempts. Early on however, I realized that photography and the experience of looking at an image were much more effective in helping me to remember where and when I was at a certain place, but most importantly, what and how I was feeling when I was there.

This past summer and autumn, I traveled across the Tibetan Plateau, documenting some of the threats from climate change to the people and ecosystems of the "Roof of the World." As I traveled, I carried with me my iPhone, along with my normal professional equipment.

For the past year and a half I have been taking pictures with my phone, mostly using it as a way to document smaller moments, or objects and things that I just wanted to record as a reminder for myself. This new tool has become my diary.

There has been a lot of debate recently about the role of cellphone photography and its impact on the professional world. Some see it as detrimental; others, as a new tool for story-telling.

I see it as the latter, a new tool that I have been able to experiment with, to play with, to help me think slightly differently about my approach to my work. Many of the images that I take with my phone have been captured in a manner that could not have been possible with my normal equipment. I don't see a conflict in the images that I take with the different systems.

The other factor I have enjoyed with the rise of cellphone photography is access to a brand new audience who may not have discovered my work before. I share my mobile uploads through Instagram (http://instagram.com/sean_gallagher_photo), where I have found a large community of people who are interested in the work I do and the issues that I cover.

This gallery presents a selection of my images from the Tibetan Plateau, taken with my iPhone, presenting an alternative view of my coverage of the issue and a personal record of moments from my travels.

Project

Rising temperatures on the Tibetan Plateau in western China are causing melting glaciers and environmental degradation, threatening the vulnerable communities that inhabit the roof of the world.

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