As part of Blog Action Day ’09 (that’s today) I wanted to share 5 tips on how to leverage your passion for photography to document the impact of climate change and other environmental issues. One of the most powerful tools to make people aware of the change that is happening around us is to document our environment. Photographs are great motivators and in a world where Social Media has taken root it’s a great medium to share rapidly.
1. Turn Off Your Mental Filters
Most photographers who enjoy nature and landscape photography have there mind tuned into the ideal scene they want to photograph… the calendar or postcard shot with magical lighting. If you retune your focus to other items you look past in pursuit of such photos such as haze, litter, industrial structures (smokestacks, abandoned machinery, etc.) and other man made items you’ll quickly find new subjects that tell an environmental story. In many ways these stories are as important if not more important than that one magical moment because it explains why those postcard photos are so rare and special.
2. Photograph the Bad and the Good
When you find a beautiful scene keep your eyes open for things you’d normally avoid or ignore to include in the scene. On one recent trip through Utah at every stop I intentionally looked to see if litter was in the area to show the impact of man on the environment. Whether its a used diaper in a meadow or an empty oil barrel in the tundra including “the bad” creates opportunities to tell an important story as it relates to our environment and culture.
3. Show Context
If you find man made items contrast them to the scene around you… perhaps the scene that first attracted you to the area. If you happen to be photographing a recently burned field and find cigarette butts consider composing a photo to contrast remnants of human activity (cigarette smoking) with the surrounding charred field. This can be done with most everything around us. It’s becoming harder and harder to find places where there is minimal presence of modern civilization. Embracing this fact and finding open space that is being encroached upon provides numerous contextual environmental photo opportunities.
4. Show Contrast
The greater the contrast between environment and man made items the more powerful the impact on those that view it. In many regards finding stark contrast is on par with the impact of photographing a landscape with that perfect lighting. Of course by contrast I’m speaking in terms of subject contrast and as such its important to be mindful of your subjects and how they interrelate. This not only will impact the visual design of your photograph, but it will shape how your image is perceived by a viewer.
5. Think Beyond A Single Photo
Don’t confine your thinking to one photo. A series of photos can amplify the visual and intellectual impact of what you photograph. A series opens opportunities to show the postcard photo in relation to “the bad” to highlight how environments are at risk. Think beyond what you see as individual subjects. Think in terms of relationships and portraying such relationships through multiple images. It is this inter-connectivity in subject and visual presentation that will tell an expanded story.
Making A Difference With Your Camera
As emphasis is placed on oil and carbon emission caps in relation to climate change you’ll find that numerous photo opportunities surround you. Using these tips try something new by exploring the less than ideal realities of our world and mapping it to the more pristine subjects you currently gravitate to. There are an infinite number of stories to tell in this regard. If one person is impacted by your photography and makes an effort to address climate change then your photography will have helped further a large and noble cause.
[tags]Blog Action Day, photography, climate change[/tags]