Anyone can be a nature photographer! (Photo: Stanislav Duben/Shutterstock)
For 13 years running, the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) has hosted Nature Photography Day on June 15. It's a wonderful event to celebrate getting outside with your camera and capturing the beauty of the natural world. But what if you take this one step farther? What if your images could not only show the wonder of wilderness, but also protect it?
We have several ways you can go the extra mile on Nature Photography Day and put your images to work for conservation.
1. Add your photos to citizen science projects
There are hundreds of citizen science projects around the country that help gather information for scientists to analyze for various studies. The help that every day people provide in collecting data is invaluable for speeding up research. And photographs are an important way to help.
First, find a citizen science project in your area using the NANPA database of projects, the National Geographic list of projects, or the SciStarter website.
Then decide how you'd like to participate. Perhaps you want to volunteer to collect images for the project. Or maybe you'd like to host a short workshop for project participants to help them take more effective photographs as they collect data. No matter what path you choose, your photography skills will be of service to science!
2. Partner with parks
Team up with a local park, whether it's a city, regional, or state park or a nature preserve or protected area. You can volunteer to create images, and donate a license to use your images for improved signage about flora and fauna, beef up brochures with high quality photos, or perhaps volunteer to photograph a community activity in the park for their media outreach.
3. Donate time to a conservation partner
Many NGOs can use the help of a photographer. Consider partnering with one that works on conservation issues close to your heart. You can keep it simple by creating images and donating a license for the nonprofit to use in their marketing materials. Or you can get more in depth by collaborating on a photojournalism story, creating the images that illustrate their impact as an organization or a particular project they're working on, which can be published in a local or national magazine. This benefits you and the organization by increasing reach for both of you.
4. Create a photo essay of local wildlife or wilderness for publication
If you'd rather work on your own, select an issue or species that's important to you and create a photo essay. You can publish this on your own website, or a storytelling platform like Maptia.
A few ideas include visiting a local area and create a travel journal about your hike, documenting a particular species for a day and discussing what you discovered about it as you tracked it through your lens, or even launching a longer term project such as a 365 photo project that starts this Nature Photography Day and ends next year.
5. Give a conservation talk at a local camera club
Feeling inspired about conservation photography? You can make a big impact by simply inspiring other nature photographers. Ask your local camera club about presenting a talk about the topic of nature conservation photography, or a specific project you're working on. If you've paired with local groups or research projects, invite one of the partners to present alongside you and discuss how images have made an impact! Keep your talk light-hearted, and stick to a few take-away points including how your listeners can also get involved in conservation photography.
BONUS: Enter NANPA's Nature Photography Day Contest
NANPA is hosting a contest for top photos taken on Nature Photography Day. Your entry will not only get you in the running for some fantastic prizes, but you'll also connect with a community of other nature photographers all interested in being out in the wild and documenting life on Earth.
Looking for other ways to celebrate Nature Photography Day? We have more ideas for you!
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