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Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography

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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 7: When Photos Are Not Enough

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Chapter 7

In the preceding chapter, I demonstrated how contemporary photographers take advantage of innovative ways to tell stories, alert the public about environmental issues and spark engagement. This chapter furthers the discussion by exploring current trends in environmental activism, ranging from the modest to extreme opportunities for engagement beyond traditional media. Nowadays, photographers, environmental advocates, and NGOs reorient public perceptions about environmental issues through unique and creative experiences that have expanded to the web, and lately to social media and emerging digital platforms. In the first part of the chapter, I focus on coordinated efforts of photographers and environmentalists working to resolve problems affecting the global community. The next section considers voices outside the mainstream working to make known the overwhelming issues facing planet Earth. Following this, I turn to partnerships between environmentalists, NGOs, and celebrities that drive the media’s and the public’s attention to environmental causes. The last part of the chapter considers a new trend of environmental activism through art.

Environmentalism in some form goes back decades, consisting of a variety of activities that led to policies for preservation and protection of open places and spaces (see Ch. 3). Past conservation groups appealed directly to the public and decision makers, especially youth and counterculture, and encouraged passive support for conservation through the purchase of books, calendars, posters, and high-quality magazines. Today’s environmentalism is not new, but in the last decade or so, photographers and activists have experimented with digital media and technology-driven tools...

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