Photography is an important medium when it comes to exhibiting the beauty of the environment or contrarily, the degradation of the environment. Photography is often used as a tool to incite an emotional response to a given subject, which is why it works so effectively as a means to promote environmental protection.
For example, Nick Sinclair, environmental photographer, recently released a book called Drop in the Ocean, Volume 1. The book contains thirty still life photographs of plastic bottles that Sinclair collected from the shoreline near his home on the Suffolk coast. The book explores man’s relationship with the environment by evoking the fact that the ocean is degraded by thousands of plastic bottles each year. The book also explores the vast disparity between wealthy western consumers who produce the waste by buying branded bottled water and the people in the world who die on daily because the lack of clean, safe water in their region. Photography helps give a face to environmental problems by displaying the consequences of environmental degradation in an accessible, visual way.
At the same time nature photography can glorify the environment, capturing stunning landscapes or wild animals in their natural habitat. Nature photography is equally valuable to the environmental movement, because it displays the need for conservation and protection of such important, magnificent places.
Photography, as an art form, brings the best out of nature. The captures of the colors and form of wildlife and landscapes awe us, regardless of quality or who the photographer was. The photos make nature real. Though we may never see the things captured in photos in real life, we believe what we see and feel a connection with them. How can we not like Yosemite Valley captured during spring? How can we not care about a baby penguin snuggled in its mother’s body? This stirs us to act on our compassion, so we might go visit these places, which contribute to eco-tourism; we might want to learn more about it; we might want to advocate for their protection, which might lead to political action.
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