Next month I’ll be returning to the Scottish Nature Photography Fair in Perth (do come along!) to talk about Conservation and Communication. Whilst preparing a bit of the show yesterday, I found myself wondering whether the modern-day (self-appointed) ‘Conservation Photographer’ is little more than a pretentious prat with an unfounded sense of self-importance. As I consider myself a conservation photographer, the thought process was particularly relevant.
There is certainly an element of bandwagonism as photographers frantically seek out the lifeboat on the good ship HMS Your Photographic Career, which seems to spring more holes on a daily basis. And who can blame anyone for simply wanting to survive? If consumer demand dictates that nature photographers are conservation-minded, organic, fairtade, homegrown, it’s not surprising that in some cases, a quick-fix ethical veneer is applied – if it’s OK for Tesco or McDonalds…
Cynicism (or is it reality?) aside, there are photographers who have consistently displayed a commitment to initiating real change. The list is long but in modern times, names that spring to mind include Thomas Peschak, Daniel Beltra, Karl Ammann, Mark Edwards – these are guys who don’t worry too much about labels or branding, they just get on with it. And ‘it’ is putting their imagery to work; getting in front of big audiences and influencing societal change. They are effective visual communicators, and that for me, is where it’s at.
As I prepare to make my bi-monthly submission to one of my picture libraries (see images herein), I realise I’m still trading in a wide range of subject matter that doesn’t support my aspiration to be a conservation photographer when I grow up. Note to self: must try harder.
The blog will go quiet for a couple of weeks as I head off to the Arctic (somebody has to do it). Ironically this is a place where Conservation Communication is as pressing as anywhere.