Make a difference through photography

Black Headed Gull. Picture by Ivor Rackham.
Black Headed Gull. Picture by Ivor Rackham.

Do you use ever consider the impact your photography has?

Thankfully, few of us see and photograph tragedies in the way that Eamon McCabe did with Heysel football stadium disaster. We are extremely unlikely to be present when there is a terror attack.

How many major incidents have you been witness too? Most people will answer none. We can, however, make a difference with our photography.

One of my favourite wildlife photographers is Chris Packham. He uses his excellent photography to highlight the plight of wildlife. Most photographers I’ve met, and certainly all wildlife photographers, are deeply concerned about the natural world.

Habitat destruction, deforestation, intensive farming and anthropogenic climate change are a reality that brought about unprecedented and ongoing mass extinction. Loss of biodiversity is the one disaster we are all witnessing.

It might appear easy for a personality like Chris Packham to defend nature with photography, but it seems a daunting task if we wanted to make people aware of, say, the 50 per cent drop in insect populations over the last 40 years.

Those intent on selling bee-killing chemicals are rich and powerful, and we are not. What hope have we got of challenging that effectively?

Filling bird feeders, fitting nest boxes, installing insect hotels, putting out cat food for hedgehogs, planting insect-friendly plants and supporting conservation organisations are all ways we can help, plus get some super photos at the same time.

We don’t have to go far to photograph wildlife. I’ve just come back from my allotment garden, capturing images of bumblebees and butterflies swarming over the lavender and sweet peas. Where I used to live, I pitched a hike tent in the garden and used it as hide.

The way we share our photos can raise awareness of issues we are passionate about.

For wildlife, it doesn’t have to be a picture of some rarely seen species. When you share a photo, find out a little bit about the subject and share that knowledge.

For example, the seemingly ubiquitous black headed gull is now orange listed because of the steep decline in breeding pairs. As so many people have discovered, they are great for practicing birds in flight shots.

So when you post a photo of them online, include a comment about how these adaptable, resourceful birds are in trouble. Then ask what hope is there for the red-listed curlew or lapwing? You might make someone sit up and listen, especially if lots of others do the same.

Tish Murtha photographed poverty in the North East, and Fay Godwin highlighted the lack of access to our countryside. They were ordinary people with a camera, driven by passion. They used their talent for photography to fight their causes. Their photography made a real difference.

While we may not get the opportunity to bring about change as they did, there are tens of thousands of photographers and each one can make a tiny difference. Collectively that can be a big force for good.

Discover your passion and photograph it!

Keeping our camera in manual mode, this week’s challenge words are Haze and Seven. Share them at http://bit.ly/PicNland