The New Generation of Conservation

Part two in the series of Conservation and Photography

by Colleen Smith

Renewed emphasis on photography-for-conservation arose at the beginning of the 21st century, primarily in response to human-caused environmental crisis. Photographers recognized that the global pattern of ecosystem degradation was not sustainable.  Modern equipment, attainable travel, the media, and now social media have all helped to bring this new discipline to the forefront of public awareness.

The modern field of conservation photography was formalized in October 2005 with the founding of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) during the 8th World Wilderness Congress held in Anchorage Alaska.  This new group was established with the basic goal of enlisting the skills and expertise of some of the world’s best photographers to help advance conservation efforts around the globe. Working with scientists, policy makers, governmental leaders, and conservation groups, the iLCP translates conservation science into captivating visual messages. Years of field experience, talent, and a commitment to conserve landscapes, people and wildlife is what sets the photographers of the iLCP apart. The work of conservation photographers covers a vast range of threats to biodiversity. From habitat loss to cultural erosion, from poaching to global warming, conservation photography is indeed a very important component in the conservation toolbox.

“The typical nature photograph shows a butterfly on a pretty flower. The conservation photograph shows the same thing, but with a bulldozer coming at it in the background. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for beautiful pictures, in fact we need beautiful images just as much as the issues. It does mean that the images exist for a reason; to save the Earth while we still can” – acclaimed photographer Joel Sartore, founding Fellow of iLCP

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