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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How To Be A Conservation Photographer


Do you want to make a difference with your pictures? Take a look at these tips to get you started.

Labels: Locations
This Article Features Photo Zoom
Preparation: Do some research. Is it protected? Does it need protecting? Is it in the process of being protected? Does anyone know about it? As you answer these questions, you'll learn which groups are working with your subject matter. Not only can they help you get the inside action on an issue, but they can be an outlet for your project in the long run.

The Goal: Go out to your site as often as you can for a month, and photograph everything you can think of that makes that place or species special. (Note: If you're doing species-focused work, it's probably best to team up with a researcher for the safety of the animal and to help you get better shots.) Special can mean beauty shots, impressionistic shots, even the threats to a place, plant or animal.

The Product: At the end of your month, edit down to your favorite selects, and take a portfolio around to at least three places that care about your location. Throughout the course of the project, you may have already created the in with an organization, but if not, most places have a public relations or other communications person you can contact. Or you can submit images to the WILD Foundation and www.natureneedshalf.org, which is striving to document the progress of conservation with a goal of someday reaching protection for half of the planet.


A biologist working for the Elizabeth River Project on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay holds up a croaker, a popular sport fish. The project is an effort to restore a wetlands that suffered 100 years of creosote pollution.
Project Idea No. 2
Become A Citizen Scientist

Challenge: Google environmental non-profits or parks departments in your neck of the woods. Then volunteer for one of their citizen science or restoration projects. You'll pull double-duty, helping with the project and photographing the conservation effort as it happens.

The Upside: Not only do you get the inside scoop on newsworthy material, but volunteering gets you valuable contacts inside an organization. The fact that you're working on one of the nonprofit's campaign issues increases the value of your images to them, and you'll get issue and location knowledge that will help you take photos others might miss. This is one of the best examples of conservation photography at work in tandem with practicing conservation. The free food and gorgeous views many of these experiences offer aren't too shabby either.

The Product: Your goal is to come out of your volunteer experience with a comprehensive photo library of the restoration effort and location. Get your images published with the nonprofit, and pitch it to some local papers or magazines. Make sure you write captions so viewers and potential editors learn the stories behind the photos. Try to collect names, place, time, and a quote or fact about what's depicted.

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