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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 6: Envisioning the Environment in the 21st Century


Chapter 6

In this chapter, and the next one, I consider more closely how photographers and environmentalists have embraced technological innovation and emerging media to advocate wide-ranging environmental concerns. This chapter focuses on a small group of photographers that have envisioned a new way to show environmental threats and communicate the tensions that intersect humanity and the environment. As this chapter will show, photographers work hard to understand the places, ecosystems, and cultures they photograph in an effort to steer the visual narrative with the hopes of getting others to see these wrongs and encourage action. Increasingly driven by their belief that what they are seeing is wrong, these photographers have cultivated alliances and partnerships with specialized entities using all media with the expressed desire to make a difference. This chapter concludes with examples of rephotography as an alternative approach to understanding changes slowly developing over time to geographic entities as well as all living and nonliving things. Looked at in that sense, it is easier to see what has become of Earth’s resources and the effect of environmental threats to culture and society.

As discussed in Chapter 1, environmental photography exposes the ills society has placed on Earth and all its inhabitants and these photos serve as witness to wrongs and make us see what we would otherwise ignore, a visual record of the threats imposed by humanity to the environment. There are, of course, countless examples of photographers actively practicing environmental photography that can...

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