Climate activist Greta Thunberg has become the youngest person ever to receive TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year title at just 16 years old. Here’s the story behind shooting the cover, told from the photographer who took it.
Evgenia Arbugaeva is the Russian photographer who took the image. She recalled the experience:
When TIME asked me to photograph Greta, I was thinking how can I make a portrait that combines gentleness and at the same time, courage. How do I capture the intense, focused gaze inwards as well as outwards, which I feel is characteristic of Greta? It was not an easy task.
As with the creative process for many shoots, she began with a moodboard, which she says includes images from Botticelli, Monet, Norse mythology, tarot cards, and Romantic period art. She landed on shooting at a rocky beach in Lisbon, Portugal on December 4 after several days scouting a location.
As she stood for a photograph, the sky colored golden pink, creating beautiful light, ocean tide was rising, and waves were raging around her. Greta stood tall and strong without moving, just a few strands of her hair fluttering in a gentle breeze. She looked straight ahead into the ocean she just crossed. At this moment, it felt as if all nature elements and forces aligned to create the magic — the most treasured gift for a photographer.
TIME Editor-in-Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said Thunberg’s selection was down to her actions for climate change being a “galvanizing force.” He elaborated:
Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington. For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year.