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Photography is one of the most powerful means of communications that can overcome cultural and linguistic barriers to deliver messages that can lead to greater awareness of any number of topics, including the problems of poverty, civil rights and, of course, environmental issues.
As the world gradually becomes more conscious of the devastating impact that modern life and industry has had on the environment it’s more important than ever for photographers to play their part in helping to turn the tide of climate change, the pollution of the oceans and destruction of fragile natural habitats.
The major environmental issues require wide scale cooperation and collective action to resolve and photographs can have an enormous impact on the public debate. Photographers have a unique perspective on the world and have excellent communications skills, both in the visual mediums but often in other areas of life as well.
7 Things Photographers Can Do To Bring More Awareness to Environmental Issues.
There are many ways that photographers can use their broad and varied skill set to help to bring more awareness to the environmental concerns that must be addressed in the modern world.
The impact that humans and their activities are having on the environment is not new; with famous photographers like Ansel Adams helping to raise awareness of environmental issues through his work with the Sierra Club decades ago. However, as industrial growth and pollution has continued to increase the need for photographers to help people to understand the issues has never been more urgent.
Powerful Photography Raises Awareness.
One of the best ways that photographers can help to address the environmental issues of our times is to visit the locations that are the most affected and create photography that demonstrates and highlights the issues.
There are many issues that are well known around the world, such as the devastation of the Amazon rainforest. This widespread understanding of the problems of deforestation and pollution in the Amazon has largely come about due to the tireless work of photographers who have travelled to the site and recorded the destruction. These photographs have been used in campaigns to raise public awareness and has eventually led to electorates demanding that their representatives take action.
The tragedy of climate change has been of central concern in recent years and it’s largely the work of photographers that has brought the reality of the problem to the general public. It is the ability to capture the essence of an environmental issue in a single image that has made the work of photographers so valuable in the environmental movement.
Blogging Can Make a Huge Difference.
Photographers are excellent communicators and although they might specialize in the visual arts their skill set often means that they can also write effective blogs. These blogs can focus on the whole range of environmental issues that they are concerned about or they can hone in on one local issue.
The preference of the photographer will depend on their own personal experiences and what moves them to take action; and although it might not seem as important, a local environmental issue that is solved by the work of a photographer can have a significant impact on the quality of life for their community.
Focus on Local Issues.
It’s often true that people are more concerned about environmental issues that are occuring in their own locality. Of course everyone is concerned about the Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef however, when there is environmental damage occurring in their own backyard it’s much easier to get them interested in the cause.
As a photographer you can document the environmental damage and then promote solutions to the problem by using a blog, setting up photo exhibitions that highlight the issues or by working with other environmental groups. You might find that you can make a bigger difference by seeking to improve local issues than taking on a huge world wide problem like the pollution of the oceans.
Demonstrate the Alternatives and Positive in Your Messaging.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of only seeing the problems that we are facing but oftentimes it is actually more effective to highlight a problem by demonstrating that there are environmentally friendly alternatives available! Many people think that although we should try to protect the environment there are simply no alternatives to the way things are done at the present – even when nothing could be further from the truth.
For instance, until quite recently, most people believed that there were no alternatives to society’s reliance on fossil fuels. However, as technology has improved, there are now a whole host of renewable, environmentally friendly alternatives that can be used!
As a photographer, you can bring public awareness to this fact by documenting the progress of the renewable energy sector of the economy by photographing it’s successes. This is a positive way of bringing public awareness that helps people to see and imagine new ways of doing things which are more in tune with the natural world.
Focusing on the solutions and remedies to problems can be more empowering for your audience than a constant barrage of negative news. If you can leverage the power of positive inspiration you will be able to raise more awareness for the environmental causes you are supporting.
Photograph and Document the Beauty of Nature.
One of the best reasons to treasure our planet is because of the stunning beauty of the natural world! Animals, birds, fish and insects are all fantastically diverse and when you start to study them and take you photographs to show a wider audience you will inspire people with a genuine desire to help to protect it! This is especially important for the younger generations who will, eventually, grow up and take over the running of society.
As more people are living in cities than ever before they can become disconnected from nature and forget how precious it really is! It’s hard to think about the distant rainforests while commuting to work in the center of a large city; but as a photographer you can help them to remember the beauty of the natural world.
The fossil fuels that power the modern world are also one of the major polluters and by helping people to see the wonders of the natural world you can help them to find more environmentally friendly ways to live.
Over consumption is the cause of many of the world’s environmental pollution but it’s going to take individuals all over the globe to change their own personal behaviors, reduce their consumption and modify their daily habits to solve this kind of issue! Helping people to remember the beauty of the natural world is a better way to approach conservation than to simply criticize their habits. People need to be inspired in themselves to take action and by using your camera to document nature in all its stunning magnificence you can do just that.
Get Active and Set Up Competitions to Raise Awareness!
If you have the means there are many ways that you can promote environmental causes as a photographer. One thing that you can do locally is to arrange photography competitions that celebrate the natural world. You can promote the competition in local schools, colleges and on social media.
Every competition needs a prize and so you need simply to set up an online crowdfunding page to raise money which can be used to reward the winners of the competition! To get the community on board you can arrange for the photo entries to be shown in a gallery and have people from the local universities give a few lectures about the environmental issues that are impacting the area.
As a photographer you can judge the photos and decide on the winner! Competitions are a fun way to bring people together around a good cause and if it is a success you can make in an annual event.
The Power of Storytelling.
One of the most effective ways to capture the attention of your audience and deliver an important message is to use storytelling techniques in the process. Using a story helps to convey the emotional and personal content of a message. When it comes to environmental themes storytelling can be an invaluable tool to raise awareness among viewers who might otherwise feel disengaged from the issues.
Using a story can make it easier to bridge the complexities of the environmental threats and give audiences a deeper understanding of the situation you are covering. Don’t forget to use factors such as the weather, the setting and the composition in your photography to convey the emotional content of an image – for instance, a stormy sky can portray a sense of looming danger whereas a sunny day conveys feelings of optimism and hope.
Get Together With Other Activists To Help Raise Awareness of the Issues.
When you’re trying to make a difference to government and corporate policies networking with other like minded people is an important step in getting your message out. You can use your skills as a photographer to highlight environmental issues and by working with other people you can more successfully reach a wider audience.
You can also work with local charities and NGOs to help promote your environmental photography and if you are running a blog they can include links to your work on their websites. All of this will help you to bring the most possible awareness to the issues you are raising.
Leverage the power of social media to reach new people and be prepared to try new things. Start blogging, take photos, set up exhibitions and get creative by starting crowd funded competitions to raise local awareness of an environmental issue.
Photography has done a huge amount to raise the public awareness about the importance of conservation, National Parks and other environmental projects. As a photographer you can play a role in helping to improve the quality of our environment and addressing the issues, such as climate change, that will help us to leave our children a better world.
Do you promote environmental awareness through your photography?