OUR DUTY IS TO SPREAD A CONSERVATION MESSAGE

Conservation photography provides a general charge to nature photographers: recognize that you can be the eyes for society at large and choose projects accordingly. Throughout the world, there are issues that deserve attention. Yet many nature photographers are continually drawn to commonly exploited subjects over and over again. These photographic exploits can be more harmful than helpful, according to of co-founder of Blue Earth Alliance, Natalie Fobes:

"Anyone who reads popular photography magazines knows when and where to go to photograph bears, whales, eagles, puffins, and every other kind of photographic creature. Some photographers, pros and amateurs alike, believe in getting the picture no matter the costs. Nature is their Disneyland; all they need to do is pay the price. It is a dangerous concept"

Alternately, photographers can choose to look beyond the postcard shot and document an animal’s behavior, as well as the context for its conservation. Rather than just take, the resulting images can give back to nature by advancing public understanding and appreciation. Photographers will always be drawn to a famous subject such as the Grand Canyon. But going to the same public vista to make the same photograph that has been made thousands of times before is not likely to help conservation. As Michael "Nick" Nichols said, there is “no more time for images that do not fight for that which has no voice.” Learning what issues the area is facing and approaching from that perspective, however, will allow the photography to be educational as well as inspiring. As Sartore said, “these are the pictures that go to work.” Limiting focus to issues should not detract from the beauty or impact of the photography. Think of a painter selecting a canvas. No matter the size of the canvas, the creative opportunities are infinite. Addressing issues should actually make the photography more relevant and publishable.