Conservation photography is about emotional storytelling

Conservation photography is an important part of environmental communication in the world today, said Neil Osbourne, a contributing editor to Canadian Geographic magazine. (Photo by Kaeleigh Phillips) Conservation photography is an important part of environmental communication in the world today, said Neil Osbourne, a contributing editor to Canadian Geographic magazine. (Photo by Kaeleigh Phillips)

Kaeleigh Phillips
News Reporter

A nesting turtle is a rare event to witness; yet the photograph gives the world access to this miracle of nature. The beauty of the turtle causes waves and promotes environmental change.

Conservation photography is an important part of environmental communication in the world today, said Neil Osbourne, a contributing editor to Canadian Geographic magazine.

He spoke at a ROM lecture about conservation photography on Jan. 29.

“Conservation photography needs to be about emotional storytelling,” he said  “Using emotional stories helps to connect with us and make issues more relatable. The power of a single image is always going to be universal.”

Osbourne explained that conservation photography was about creating a story that demonstrates the natural environment of the species and juxtapositioned with darker images of potential threats to the natural environment to evoke deeper emotional responses from viewers.

Osbourne has made leaps and bounds in conservation photography, helping to coordinate the environmental visual communication program located in the ROM and collaborating with photographers from National Geographic.

Conservation photography is also an important faucet for creating environmental awareness at the ROM.

“Museums really need to re-invest themselves when it comes to the education of natural history,” said Dave Ireland, the Director of Biodiversity at the ROM.

Ireland also said that the ROM has chosen to use photography to encourage people to protect the environment and conserve.

Humber’s conservation area, the Arboretum, was created in 1977 by horticulture students to study wild habitat in the West Humber River Valley.

The Arboretum encourages photography in the area to help promote the beauty and importance of Toronto’s natural environment.

“Photography is helpful to the preservation of conservation areas,” said Taurean Linton, a Public Relations and Events manager for the Centre for Urban Ecology.

Linton added that conservation photography convinces people to come outside because it is beautiful.

“The outdoors doesn’t always have to be manicured to look good,” Linton said.

Osbourne said he believes photography can help to conserve natural environments and promote their continued relevance to modern mediums such as the camera.

The click of a camera could save a species if people cared to take a look through this particular lens.

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