Photography is a diverse field. As a photographer, you are not only an artist but a storyteller with the ability to choose what sort of message you want to convey. You have the ability to emphasize what is beautiful in the world. However, you can also choose to draw attention to that which is disturbing or frightening with the goal of motivating people to make things better. As an environmental photographer, you can become an activist like Louise Gund, and you may not even have to say a single word, letting your images speak for you instead.
Like any other vocation, environmental photography requires training and practice. There are steps that you can take to improve your proficiency and effectiveness. Here are a few tips that may prove helpful.
- Involve the Human Element
Human beings interact with the environment in ways that are both positive and negative. You can include depictions of both to tell an effective story. Photography is largely about evoking emotions through imagery. Taking pictures of degraded landscapes can provoke a sense of loss. However, pictures of people using the land in a way that is healthy and sustainable can engender hope and inspiration. For this reason, conservation groups may be willing to buy and use them.
- Don’t Neglect Your Words
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, it may be possible to convey more important information about the images you have captured and why they are significant if you combine the pictures you take with words in the form of a photo essay. This is also an effective way to publicize your work, which is necessary if you intend to make a career in environmental photography.
- Work Locally
You are likely to do your work more effectively if you have a vested interest in what you are doing. Working in the area where you live helps you to illuminate issues that affect you directly, or at least have the potential to do so in the future. There is also a practical reason for confining your work to a local area; it allows you to use your time more efficiently rather than expending it in travel.
- Be Prepared To Conduct Research
Even if you confine yourself to working in a local area that you are familiar with, you should also conduct research to find out about specific issues affecting the environment in your area. This, too, is a more efficient use of your time as opposed to going out into the field and searching aimlessly for things to photograph.
- Diversify Your Subjects
You may specialize in a particular subject area, such as wildlife or landscapes. While it is fine to make that a focus, you can tell a more complete story by expanding to a wide variety of subjects. You will probably also learn more about photography in the process and improve professionally as a result.
As with most human endeavors, success in environmental photography rarely occurs in a vacuum. You will likely need to network with people and organizations that possess expertise that you lack. Examples include government agencies and conservationists.