Up for Discussion – Environmental Photography
This weeks guest post is by me, I won’t introduce myself and I hope you don’t mind me doing one of these posts. I have always had ideas of what to write about, but I have enjoyed letting other people write posts for me, gives me a day off. I hadn’t organised anyone for today, so I thought I might talk to you about something that I have been thinking about a lot lately.
Those of you that have been with me for almost 4 years will know that my photography has changed a lot over that time. I am not going to go into how, but more recently I’ve started noticing that I am doing so much more landscape work, which 15 years ago, I would never have considered. I am always looking for places to take photos that I think are interesting. I don’t know that what I want to do falls under the umbrella of nature, though it is sort of like nature, however I don’t really want to photograph the animals or the birds.
So where does that leave me, I have started thinking it leaves me in the world of environmental photography, is that such a thing? I thought first we should explore what environmentalism and what it means to be an environmentalist. I looked up those words in the Wikipedia.
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environ ment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements. Environmentalism advocates the preservation, restoration and/or improvement of the natural environment, and may be referred to as a movement to control pollution or protect plant and animal diversity. For this reason, concepts such as a land ethic, enviromental ethics, biodiversity, ecology and the biophilia hypothesis figure predominantly.
An environmentalist broadly supports the goals of the environmental movement, “a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities”. An environmentalist is engaged in or believes in the philosophy of environmentalism.
This is a question I keep asking myself, especially when you consider that in the past photography has been so harmful to the environment with all the film and chemicals. It is one thing that I do love about digital, it is so much better for the environment, though I have heard that it is still bad because we keep upgrading our gear. I don’t know about that, I do upgrade, but I always seem to hang onto my old gear, just in case. So now the question is, what or how can we be an environmental photographer?
The most famous photographer I can think of that has been called this is Ansel Adams and how he photographed the world around him. Did he change things? I don’t know, but I do know an Australian photographer that stopped a dam. Peter Dombrovskis took the first image in this post and it has been credited with helping to stop the Franklin River dam. What the photo depicted would have been under the dam if it had happened. How many of us would like to take a photo that could have that much impact?
I have to admit I like the idea, but a check with reality makes me realise that in todays world that is going to be a lot harder. Though I do believe that our climate is changing, and in the years I’ve been here the weather has changed a lot. Our environment is changing constantly and perhaps it would be good to start taking photos of what is here now, and then what is here next year, and the year after.
So I find myself asking, can I be a “greenie”, or do I want to be one! I really like the idea of taking more environmental style images. I like going into my local park to see what I can get, in all sorts of conditions. I also really like going to the Mallee for the same sorts of reasons. The Mallee is an area that has changed a lot over the last 200 years, and it continues to suffer from what we are doing to the planet. I know since I was child growing up in the area things have changed there, farmers have become a lot more knowledgeable about sustaining the enviroment and things I saw as a child, you no longer see. Though we haven’t gone far enough.
One of the things that I have enjoyed doing is going to the national parks up there and looking around them, then seeing what is happening. They say the desert area in Australia is getting bigger all the time, and when you go up there it isn’t hard to believe. If the original settlers, well the English ones found what is there now, I don’t know that they would have stuck around. The land there has been changed so much, and many of the lakes that had water, now have none. It is very different now. Who knows what it will be like in another 100 years, and all I can do is photograph it and show everyone what it is like. I do hope that my photos help people to understand what is happening.
I suppose that means that I want to be an environmental photographer, and I think I’m fine with that. I really look forward to my trips up to the Mallee and to areas around me. It is fascinating seeing the areas and talking to people about the areas, I love hearing the history of the areas as much as I like taking photos of them. I think for me, the idea would be to make people aware of what is around me and around the country.
If I go and take photos of what is here, and in other places, then I put them up here on my blog, then you and others become aware of those places. You might make a connection and then help to protect it. I think there is land worth saving, and worth protecting.
What do you think of when you think of Environment photography? Do any particular photographers come to mind?
For this post, with the exception of the first image, the photos are mine and they have been taken over the last couple of years, though most of them this year. I wanted to show the different situations where change can happen, one of them being a dry summer, and the other being fire. When the Black Saturday fires happened here over 5 years ago I was sort of told that I shouldn’t take photos, I wish I had though. I took photos after the Mallee fires and now have been able to go back and see how the land is regenerating, now I will be able to continue doing that and to show you. At the end I have included a video that I just did recently of the Pink Lakes from the photos I took there.
I have included a video here that I just did recently of the Pink Lakes from the photos I took there. This is something else that I want to do more, using my photos to tell stories of areas, and so I am working on getting better at doing these video presentation.