Together with the Department of Conservation we are celebrating 50 years of Conservation Week in New Zealand which is such a significant milestone.
We have so many wonderful reserves and parks in New Zealand, making it one of the best places on our planet where people can get as close to nature and wildlife as they want whilst also playing a part in taking care of it for generations to come.
Our children are taught to be involved and help the conservation efforts from kindergarten, the message continuing through school and university, and reinforced throughout life with local campaigns, TV, and radio stations. We celebrate every achievement from how many kiwis we saved, to finding Takahe a new home. (If you don't know about the AirNZ campaign, you should definitely watch it here).
But as photographers we must ask ourselves 'what impact does our photography have on nature and wildlife?' Is it a positive impact or negative?
If you are a wildlife or nature photographer you most likely have at least a few dozen decent photographs that you have (or could) share on social media or sell as prints. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if your photographs do enough in terms of conservational efforts? Do they tell a story? Do you tell a story? They may be generating a few hundred likes or followers on Instagram receiving “Great photo!” type comments, but do they actually inform people about conservation, about wildlife?
In her eye-opening article last week, Excio member Ann Wheatley shared her thoughts about Nature First principles and how nature photographers are unwittingly contributing to exactly what they're trying to prevent.
As photographers we can use our camera as a tools. Since we are usually close to nature, finding ourselves in some magnificent, unusual, and sometimes even hard to reach places, why don't we take a photograph and then add a story to it that makes an impact?
To make nature and our conservation efforts matter, we need to start “exploiting” our photographs, we need them to tell wider stories to a much wider audience.
At Excio we are very proud of our members taking a responsible approach to photography and sharing messages that are making an impact as more and more people around the globe see their photographs every day and read the stories behind the images.
Our champions in capturing our beautiful nature and wildlife are Fairlie Atkinson, Judi Miller, Kim Free, Daniel Winstead, Peter Laurenson, Shaun Barnett, ER Imaging Photography, Vandy Pollard, Journey by Story, Graham Jones, Carole Garside (YorkshireKiwi), Vicki Finz, and Greg Arnold to name a few.
You may remember our interview with Fairlie Atkinson who uses her photography to help reserves.
“Over the years I’ve grown to realize how important a compelling image is in getting across a wildlife advocacy message”, said Judi Miller while also telling readers how she developed a compelling need to share wildlife stories and photos to advocate for the species and spaces she is helping restore. You can read more about her journey in her interview here.
Kim Free is another person whose conservation and photography efforts merge in her creative world that does good.
Daniel Winstead, a Biology student who recently graduated from VUW has been working on his “Threat” collection that explores the portrayal of endangered species. Currently Daniel is pursuing a masters degree in biological oceanography at the University of Hawaii. He says “The only time that matters, is the time in which we can do, and take action. Now. Right now, many species are facing extinction because of human occupation and our ignorance towards the effects of our actions.”
“Caged spirit” by Peter Laurenson is another example of a photograph doing good and raising awareness. If you look at the story behind this magnificent photo of a snow leopard captured in the Himalayas, Peter is asking us “How much longer will this species’ freedom remain a reality as man impinges on more and more of their natural habitat?”
Grab Excio now on your phone, it is free to download, and celebrate conservation week with us. Our community has many more stories and images to share and you will be pleasantly surprised with how much impact a single photo make.