Conservation photography is a powerful tool for inspiring people to care about wildlife, the environment, and the planet.
But it takes more than just a good camera and some eye-catching shots to tell a compelling conservation photo story.
You have to start by planning your project and then find the right gear, characters, and locations that match your message.
For example, capturing candid moments can be a great way to do that if you want the viewer to connect emotionally with an animal or place.
However, suppose you’re trying to raise awareness about deforestation or overfishing in some areas of the world.
In that case, showing dead trees or fish carcasses might be more effective than humanizing them with portraits of individual animals or people who rely on them as part of their livelihoods (though both approaches could work depending on your audience).
Start With a Photo Story Plan
Build a well-researched plan around the visual story you wish to convey.
Consider the crux of the conservation issue that needs to be communicated, and then build your visual image strategy based on those points.
Here are some points to consider:
- Planning is crucial because you need to know what you want to say before you start shooting, and planning helps keep you focused on the task at hand. In your planning, consider the main message you wish to convey and how you will get that message across to your audience.
- It also helps ensure you get the shots (and angles) that will help tell your story most effectively. Factors such as framing, composition, and lighting are vital when creating a compelling visual photo story.
- Planning is also essential for staying on schedule and budget since it lets pros know which areas are worth spending more time in, where they should focus their energy during shoots, etc.
Use The Right Gear For Your Photo Story
If you’re going to capture your audience’s attention and tell a compelling conservation story with your photos, it’s essential to use the right gear for the job.
Here are some essential tips to help get started:
- Know Your Camera—Read through the manual (yes, even if you think it’s too long). Learn how to use all its features to be second nature when shooting on location. For example, if your camera has multiple settings for different lighting conditions or subject matter (i.e., landscape vs portrait), adjust these as needed before going out into the field.
- Practice shooting in those scenarios at home so that when it comes time for an assignment in those same conditions, your familiarity will help keep both hands free from handling other aspects of shooting.
Understand The Basics of Visual Composition
Have you ever wondered why some images look more compelling than others?
Many factors are at play, but the first place to look for inspiration is in the rules of composition.
Composition is the art of arranging visual elements within a frame—and there are plenty of tried and true ways to do this that will make your photos pop.
- Let’s look at your images’ lines, shapes, and patterns. You can use these natural features to enhance your photos (and make them feel less “staged”).
- You can also add other elements like colour or texture to help draw attention to certain areas of your image.
- Lines lead viewers through a photograph and creative direction; shapes define space and add weight; patterns embellish without being too busy or distracting.
- The golden ratio refers to a mathematical formula used throughout history in architecture, design, and art—it creates pleasing proportions when applied appropriately!
- Simplifying your frame is a great way to keep your audience engaged. It’s essential to show the subject in context, but you also want to ensure they can see what you’re trying to show them.
- One of the most important things you can do when simplifying your image is to take advantage of symmetry and balance as much as possible. Symmetry draws attention because it creates order out of chaos, naturally capturing our attention and keeping us focused on what we’re seeing.
- Balance does something similar by providing some visual equilibrium—a quality that makes images feel stable and solid. Again, this helps draw attention because stability means safety; we tend not to worry about something balanced or symmetrical.
So take advantage of these qualities when composing your photo stories by including many elements that balance each other (like shapes within an image) or breaking up large areas with smaller ones (like crops).
Capture Candid Moments With Your Camera
Capturing candid moments is a great way to show your audience the true nature of conservation photography.
We all know that wildlife conservation is essential and we need more people to be involved in it, but how often do you see the actual experience of nature?
The answer is not very often.
But by waiting until the right moment and snapping a picture, you can give your viewers an intimate look into what life is like for our planet’s animals and habitats.
Write Captions That Complement Your Images
The captions to your images should be short and to the point, not redundant.
The photo story depicted through this article is about the African Black Duck and the chicks being shepherded and protected by the parents as they make their daily movements.
What is evident in the photographic story depicted in this article?
- But what else can we learn from viewing the photos in a story-telling sequence about how the mother and father ducks protect their young ones?
- What can an audience deduce from the visual story presented here?
- How will it change the audience’s beliefs and perceptions?
- How will the message of this conservation photo story inspire an audience to become more aware of the lives of the African Black duck?
A caption for a photo could answer these questions, as demonstrated in this article.
You may also want to include information about where you took the photo.
Captions help readers connect with your images emotionally by creating more context for them—they can imagine themselves as part of that moment in nature!
Tell Your Visual Story Chronologically
For your audience to understand and appreciate the message of conservation, they must be able to follow along with the story.
The most effective way to do this is by telling it chronologically.
It’s important to remember that while you may have a great message and an exciting story if your audience doesn’t understand what you are trying to say, then there will be no point in trying at all.
By being transparent with your audience about how and why you did something or captured an image, you are helping them see things from your perspective so that they can better relate to and see things from yours.
Share Your Work Early And Often
You will want to share your conservation photo story with your audience as soon as possible.
People are more likely to pay attention if they think it’s new and fresh, so sharing a conservation photo story right after it’s published will help build momentum in the beginning.
However, don’t forget about how important it is to finish strong.
Ensure you end strong by reaching out to individuals following along from the start or new followers interested in reading more about your work.
The last impression you leave on people can make or break their experience with your conservation photo story.
The three main aspects of telling a compelling conservation photo story are planning, character and images, and sharing the final story.
Choose an Enticing Opening Photo
The photos I have chosen to display in this article tell the visual photo story of a family of African Black Ducks that live on a pond in the nature reserve.
The photo story depicts a short and charming narrative showing how the adult parent ducks protect the ducklings who instinctively follow their parent’s movements.
By carefully planning and selecting the best visuals, I have crafted a photo story that shows my audience a snippet of ducks’ daily life and environment.
I hope this photo story will not only entertain the audience but also bring an awareness of the need for and importance of conservation photography in preserving our natural heritage in all its forms.
When planning a photo story, it’s important to consider who the audience is.
- Are the viewers already interested in your topic?
- Will they be able to relate to your character?
- What types of images will help convey the experience and make it more vivid for them?
Once you get all of this sorted out, then comes sharing with others.
Some of the best ways to communicate are by using social media and using a personalised website.
You can also reach out to established organisations in the conservation photography industry who may wish to use your photo story in their publications.
One such organisation is the International League of Conservation Photographers.
The world is full of amazing stories.
We hope the ideas in this article will help you bring your unique voice and vision to the table on conservation photo storytelling.
Many more stories are waiting for us out there in nature.
Now get out there and create your compelling visual photo story!
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This article was initially published at https://wp.me/pd7rsc-FS
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