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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Environmental Conservation

The world needs more nature photographers with environmental and natural history backgrounds

Labels: How-ToOn LandscapeColumn
John employed all his skills, working full time on the project as fundraiser, organizer, designer, writer, photographer and, eventually, filmmaker. Working as a SeaWeb Fellow, he helped catalyze an international movement to protect the Ross Sea. He worked closely with scientists, policy makers and conservation organizations, recruited New Zealand filmmaker Peter Young to make a film, conceived, organized and funded a key scientific conference, and raised over $1 million to support the effort. In 2006, he made his first trip to Antarctica. After four trips to the Ross Sea, including three months of diving under the ice as a guest of the United States Antarctic Program, John compiled a library of Ross Sea photographs that has been published in dozens of magazines used by conservation organizations to publicize the Ross Sea all over the world and showcased at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the 2009, 2011 and upcoming 2013 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. He was awarded a prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation in 2009.

The culmination of his efforts is a new book, The Last Ocean: Antarctica's Ross Sea Project: Saving the Most Pristine Ecosystem on Earth (Rizzoli, 2013), which will be available in October. See www.johnbweller.com, www.rizzoliusa.com or Amazon.com for details.

John's philosophy of photography is a direct derivative of his philosophy of conservation. He says, "The Ross Sea story is not just about a fish, or the incredible organisms that live at the edge of the world. This is our own story—the story of our struggle to become sustainable. And despite the overwhelming challenges we must face, I believe that we can unite our efforts, and write the next chapter of this story together. Really, it's our only choice, because the truth is, that in the face of exponentially increasing pressure on our world resources, we all comprise a single community, and only in its balance can we find peace."

In July and October of this year, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources—with delegates from 25 nations—will discuss a proposal for a Ross Sea Marine Protected Area.

There are many other examples of environmental photographers doing highly artistic imagery and great work to protect our Earth—Robert Glenn Ketchum, James Balog, Frans Lanting, Jack Dykinga, Jim Brandenburg and Art Wolfe, to name a few. Ansel Adams was a mentor in that regard for many photographers concerned with preserving wild lands and creatures. Organizations such as the North American Nature Photography Association, International League of Conservation Photographers and Blue Earth Alliance are providing funding and forums for project-minded photographers wishing to make a difference in the world.

My focus has been, and still is, on creating images that reflect the magic, mystery and spirituality I see in nature, whether in my backyard garden or the epic cliffs of Yosemite Valley. At the core of developing a sense of environmental responsibility is for artists to communicate their deepest feelings about nature, and in doing so, encourage others to act with respect and love for the natural beauty that surrounds us. There are many ways to make a powerful impact with your images. Which path will you take? Will you make a difference?

To learn about William Neill's one-on-one Yosemite workshops, ebooks and iTunes app, see his latest images and learn about his online courses with BetterPhoto.com, visit www.williamneill.com.


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