Conservation Photography Comes of Age

As a youngster, his responsiveness to “wilder environments” might have seemed inevitable to those who knew him. An only child troubled by shyness and hyperactivity, he had trouble fitting into a public-school environment, which resulted in home tutoring and, further, deprived him of school chums.

Maybe even more of an influence, however, were his early encounters with nature in the still undeveloped Bay area and Pacific Northwest of the early 1900s. They proved his salvation.

At the ripe old age of 13, with a Brownie box camera given to him by his father, Ansel Adams embarked on a life-long photographic journey that took him deep into the wild he considered sacred. Not only did he have a remarkable impact on the art itself, but also stirred a public awakening to the majesty – and vulnerability – of nature.

Considered the most influential landscape photographer of the 20th century, Adams dedicated his life and craft to his love of nature and the cause of conservation.

Today, from more than two leagues beneath the ocean’s surface to hundreds of miles above it, photography has reached new levels of technical sophistication, heralding a new age of photographers who have responded to what is considered a human-caused environmental crisis.

As we moved into the 21st century, landscape and nature photography branched into an ever more powerful and convincing medium: Conservation photography, a discipline that today serves as a veritable watchdog of environmental preservation and poses as a significant and indispensable conservation tool.

With the resolve and wisdom of marine biologist and photographer Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier, conservation photography became more widely recognized in 2005, when she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers, an organization the pursues a mission to “further environmental and cultural conservation through ethical photography.”

Professional conservation photographers help to facilitate environmental conservation, wildlife conservation, habitat conservation or cultural conservation with an art form that stokes public awareness and consideration of environmental issues and our sustainable future.

Celebrate Ansel Adams’ birthday with us on February 20, and step into his awe-inspiring shoes. Take your camera – whether an old Brownie or new-age smartphone – into the wild. Be a watchdog and capture your observations of our environment. What discoveries will you make? Can you influence change and make a difference with your photography?

Everyone is welcomed to share their photos! Teachers, especially, please encourage your students to share their best images with us – of course, you can, too – at facebook.com/FacingtheFuture and be a watchdog for our sustainable future.

Learn more about Ansel Adams at anseladams.com and visit conservationphotographers.org to know more about conservation photography.

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