Wild About Conservation Photography

Conservation Photography
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department manages 8,000 areas of public use parks and nature preserves including Riverbend Park in Jupiter, Florida.

What makes me press the shutter button?

South Florida Water Management District is the government agency that manages water resources for 7.7 million Florida residents located from Orlando to the Florida Keys.

Many years ago, I called myself an “Outdoor Photographer” “Nature Photographer” or “Landscape Photographer.”  But the more I hiked and looked closely through the lens for great images of nature, I realized the scarcity of such natural places.  Finally, I had the big “Aha moment” where the purpose for pressing the shutter became clear to me.  

I now proudly call myself a “conservation photographer”.  Its the reason I shoot nature and the reason I teach wildlife photography workshops.

Conservation Photography
I am proud to call myself a conservation photographer and teacher.

My mission today, is to leverage the power of the self-publishing and online photo journalism to publish photos and stories that foster preservation.  To go beyond making photos for beauty sake—to create communications that inspire action. So, today I am energized, celebrating the national parks, state preserves and county parks that “get it right” and promoting both public and private efforts to restore and preserve wilderness areas. 

Birds Workshop Img 03
At Wakodohatchee Wetlands Preserve , Palm Beach County utilities adds 2 million gallons of reclaimed water per day to the local water table.

Conservation photography is simply a matter of what a photographer does with the photo.  In today’s world of online publishing it is easy to showcase photos on social media like Instagram and Facebook. More importantly, when posted with a powerful story, an image can have a “ripple effect” by spreading and influencing. The history of conservation photography has inspired change from its invention in the mid-1800’s.  

William Henry Jackson’s photographs are widely credited as playing a major role in the creation of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the US. 

Carleton Watkins photographs stimulated the establishment of Yosemite National Park. On the strength of his images, President Abraham Lincoln, signed the bill that paved the way for the National Parks system.  William Henry Jackson and Ansel Adams outstanding photos promoted funding to expand and operate these parks. 

Long exposure photography
Yosemite National Park

Video expanded the messages in the mid-1900’s. Jacques-Yves Cousteau educated millions about the Earth’s oceans and its inhabitants—inspiring their protection. His Oscar-winning films and TV documentaries introduced the public to the undersea world and pressured heads of state to pass a moratorium on commercial whaling.

Conservation Photography
Great Blue Herons nest at Green Cay Nature Preserve , a managed wetland operated by the Palm Beach County Department of Parks and Recreation.

The internet has empowered every individual with their own “TV broadcasting network” and “nature magazine” to do the same.  How can you begin?  Start locally, in the world you know best.  Every hometown has its challenges. In Florida, where I live –birds, fish and reefs in the Everglades and along both east and west coastlines are dying as a result of water dumps and mismanagement.  Vast areas of natural lands essential to collecting rainwater and feeding the state’s underground water tables are disappearing. 

Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management protects, preserves and enhances land and water resources of Palm Beach County both inshore and offshore.

As daunting as these environmental issues seem, there are groups making progress.  South Florida’s Water Management District, Palm Beach Counties’ Environmental Resource Management, Palm Beach County Parks—are purchasing wilderness for preservation.  As a citizen with a camera, my “higher purpose” is to capture images of the life in these areas and to promote and celebrate their efforts.  For more information, contact: Bob Gibson at rjg@rjgibson.com

Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management Lands