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Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography


Michelle I. Seelig

Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography is a modern look at how photographers visualize what is happening to people and places on a changing planet. Michelle I. Seelig draws attention to what compels photographers to focus on these important messages, what tools they are using to advocate for just causes, and how photographers engage directly with citizens in a meaningful conversation beyond the photograph. Photographers continue to document the land and nature as they always have; however, today they use all media to advocate wide-ranging environmental concerns. Photographers, filmmakers, and environmentalists engage the public with visual and technologically driven content that is both affordable and portable, allowing advocacy to transcend boundaries in the global community previously overlooked by traditional media. This innovative book showcases strategies practiced by photographers, environmentalists, and advocacy groups in the twenty-first century and will serve as inspiration for future advocates of environmental issues and other important and just causes. Accessible and user-friendly, Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography is a must-read for both future photographers and individuals interested in communicating and advocating for environmental and social change.
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Chapter 2: Photo Documents


Chapter 2

This chapter continues the development of the idea that almost from the start, photographs have played a pivotal role advocating social issues and furthers the premise for photographs with a purpose. With this as context, this chapter begins with a review of the early years of photography. Then, I trace the practice of combining photography and sociology together to study and observe culture and society, showing how the sociologist-turned-photographer legitimized the use of photographs as visual record. The next section focuses on the relationship between documentary photography and social reform to illustrate how past photographers laid the groundwork for visual advocacy. Included is a selection of photographers that used photographs as evidence to improve social conditions. The last part of this chapter considers parallels between photojournalism and photographing war to draw the public’s attention to issues affecting the wider world.

Camera pictures have been traced as far back as the Renaissance, starting with the Camera Obscura (Carlebach, 1992; Newhall, 1982; Sandweiss, 1991; Scharf, 1976). Born out of a desire by painters to realistically render reality in their paintings, the Camera Obscura required the artist to draw an image that was transposed through a light entering a minute hole on the wall of a darkened room and transfixed on the opposite wall. During the 17th and 18th centuries, craftsmen fitted the Camera Obscura with a lens on one end of a light-tight wooden box with a tiny hole, and the other end was covered with...

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