Photography in the Field

Part three in the series of Conservation and Photography

by Colleen Smith

Conservation photographers work with a myriad of groups, from scientists to environmentalists, religious figures to heads of state, all with the common goal of education and awareness. To maximize their effect, conservation photographs are best employed for specific causes. Proper use of these images have the power to bring about positive change.

Jeanette, an Environmental Assessment Coordinator for the Federal Government tells us how important photographs and videos are in increasing awareness to the general public. “Seeing amazing photos of animals or landscapes that people (especially in the city) don’t see every day can really evoke a sense of wonder and a sense that wilderness or wildlife is something valuable to be protected.” But conservation photography doesn’t just deliver the message to the general public, it is also a very useful instrument used by researchers. Photographs of seabird colonies can be used for counting and estimating populations, photographs of banded birds (shot with 600mm super telephoto lenses) allow researchers to read the band numbers from the photo – something that wouldn’t be visible with a set of binoculars. The same is said for videography. For example, video is used to monitor tagged fish that move through a salmon ladder, or video used to track animal movements at a particular location i.e. animal use at eco-passages over highways. Photography and video has never played a more important role in protecting our environment.