Why Nature Photography is Now More Important than Ever

by Lana Tannir
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Nature Photography

Introduction

Nature photography explores the wonders of our planet. The scope includes landscapes, wildlife, insects, and plants. On one hand, its intention is to portray the beauty of our environment. On the other hand, it can also serve another important purpose. In particular, it can document, record, verbalize, and trigger nature conservation, wildlife protection and environmental action. How? This article shows you how you too can make a difference by photographing beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Arctic Fox in Svalbard

1. Nature Photography Exposes Species Close to Extinction

As frightening as it may sound: our planet is now in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. Dozens of plants and animals are disappearing every day at 1,000 times the normal rate. Scientists estimate that by 2050, between 30-50 percent of all species are going to be extinct. Basically, that is a pretty scary thought.

In the midst of this mass extinction, nature photography can play a major role. Specifically, it can both document endangered species and highlight the issue at hand. Through creativity, nature photographs can visualize scientific fact. In particular, several ways that nature photographs can make a difference include:

  • Revealing human-animal conflict around the globe and helping to prevent it
  • Documenting animal behavior and migration patterns
  • Exposing poaching attempts and illegal hunting
  • Documenting the last of a species for scientific visualization purposes and historic records (see Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark for inspiration)
  • Raising awareness on habitat protection for this species
  • Vocalizing the restoration and rehabilitation of endangered species at animal sanctuaries, NGOs and wildlife centers
Norwegian Mountain at Sunset
Male Orca in the North Sea

2. Nature Photography Captures Changing Ecosystems

Remember the documentary Chasing Ice? Therein, photographer James Balog and his team create a multi-year visual chronicle of the planet’s glaciers. They set up cameras across different continents to take photographs of glaciers over a period of several years. What are their findings? Well…for danger of spoiling the documentary, I’m not going to reveal too much. 

The bottom line of the story is: our planet is changing at a rapid rate. After all, the Amazon Rainforest is burning. Likewise, Australian bushfires are raging with over 1 billion species falling victim to the fires. Our glaciers are melting. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. For this reason, nature photography is more critical than ever. Using nature photography, we can keep records of our biodiversity in its present state. In effect, we can illustrate the changes that are taking place in the long-term.

Glacier in Svalbard
Mountain Range at Sunset in Norway

3. Nature Photography Promotes Sustainability & Conservation

One of the biggest benefits of nature photography is that it can educate others about the beauty and vulnerability of our planet. With the onset of social media, it is now easier than ever for local photographers to make a global impact around the world. Our voices resonate louder. Our power to make a positive change on both a local, national, and international scale is stronger.

Often times, people are not aware that certain species even exist and may be endangered. Hence, many issues that involve a certain species are only revealed when taking a peak behind the scenes. Many topics have gained importance as a result of photography. For example: wildlife tourism, habitat destruction, poaching, and plastic pollution. Depicting the repercussions and consequences of these practices can bring about immense change. In other words: industries can be pressured to become more sustainable. Laws and regulations can be introduced. And companies with cruel practices can be boycotted. Hence, nature photography can be a powerful tool for promoting sustainability and conservation through education.

4. Nature Photography Unites Communities to Act

In essence, photography has always been a very political art form, even when it comes to nature photography. A famous environmentalist, who employed this idea in his work is Ansel Adams. That is to say, Adams used the beauty of natural landscapes to make a statement about their value for humanity and culture. Therefore, when creating an image, we can simultaneously make a public statement. In fact, one that can greatly support groups in raising their voices against ill-intentioned actions.

Most of us are familiar with the term “together we are stronger”. This also applies to protecting landscapes and wildlife. With economics playing a major role in environmental decisions, nature photography is key to uniting communities to act on behalf of the planet. We can incite several actions with a powerful photograph. Among them are volunteering, petitioning, protesting, restoring, and innovating as a people. Ultimately, an image can move us to care. And it can unite us with other people that do so, as well.

Arctic Fox Shedding Winter Fur
Mountain with Crescent Moon

Summary

Nature photography is a powerful tool. By depicting the beauty of our planet and wildlife, it can illustrate the irreplaceable value of our environment. Furthermore, it can serve to document the changes taking place in our eco-system and biodiversity over the long term. Through nature photography, communities can unite to act towards a common goal. Above all, a photograph can communicate the need for change on an international scale to promote a more sustainable future.

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