Celebrating Earth Day 2013 As A Photographer

43 years ago, Earth Day officially became a celebration throughout America.

It started out in much the same way as every movement does. A US Senator from Wisconsin decided to take action after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could get energy into public consciousness about what was truly happening to our earth – what water and air pollution was truly doing to us, it would be a massive wake up call to the change that had to take place in order for us to survive.

On April 22, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate the need for healthy sustainable environmental choices. People that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they were all involved in a common goal. Each little piece plays an important part in the overall quality of Mother Earth. And if we don’t take care of it now, She won’t take care of us later.

Every year for the last 43 years, Earth Day takes on a new vantage point for raising awareness. This year – Earth Day 2013 – is all about The Face of Climate Change.

Celebrating Earth Day 2013 As A Photographer

Statistics consistently show we are getting warmer, with 2012 being the ninth warmest year on record. The Artic sea ice is declining at a rate of 11.5 percent per decade. Land ice sheets are losing more than 100 cubic kilometers of ice per year since 2002. We’re emitting more carbon dioxide into our air, and sea levels continue to rise.

The statistics go on and on.

While it may be confusing to understand all that is happening, ignoring it at this point is simply not an option.

In today’s world, almost everything impacts our world in some way. Fracking, our changing food supply, water supply, environmental destruction – look in your local paper and you’re sure to find dozens of ideas that are impacting the environment – and that may be near and dear to your heart.

As photographers, we can use our passion in many ways, including becoming involved in a project and showcasing what it truly means to our society.

Just look at the impact James Balog is having (his Chasing Ice is on National Geographic channel this month).

With that in mind, what can you do to make a difference?

Start with something local

People often feel to make a difference; they have to go half way around the world to show what’s happening from all angles. Not true. Instead, focus in on something that is happening right in your hometown. Are there endangered wetlands in a nearby community? Or maybe an animal that is losing its habitat? Is there a hot topic that everyone is talking about – for example, fracking is huge across the Colorado landscape – how is that impacting our survival?

Do your research. Find out what the issues truly are. Attend group meetings, both for and against the topic. Really learn what the issues are. Then create a photography plan to prove what is truly happening.

If you watch James Balog’s Chasing Ice, you’ll discover that’s how he became an activist. He started filming ice as a part of his job, and what he found through his photographs gave him insight he couldn’t ignore.

Create a story

The problem with most projects is people simply don’t care. They don’t see the impact on their own lives, and with so much going on, why should they think about one more thing anyway?

While photographs are beautiful, they are a one time view and forget concept. It’s the stories that tug at the heartstrings and want you to take you to a whole other level of caring.

As you find your cause and begin to take action, you’ll learn a lot about the situation. You’ll learn which side you want to support and what the implications are. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone – that will never happen. Be true to your side and present things in a meaningful way that will truly stick with people long after they hear what you have to say.

Then get your word out there. You can submit to a variety of environmental magazines – try the Society of Environmental Journalists or MediaBistro for tips on how and where to submit.

No idea is crazy

Remember, no matter what angle you have, or what your passion is, there is always a way to take it forward and become the expert on it. You can fund it before you even take action using crowdfunding sites.

Dig Deeper: 4 Tips To Crowsfunding Your Photography Project

Dig Deeper: Crowdfunding – Is It The Solution To Your Next Great Photo Project?

Come up with your idea. How will you execute the project and what will the final projects be? Who would you team up with make the project that much better? What are all the issues – is there a complimentary project that you can build from?

The stronger you make your project up front, the more successful it will be in the end. Leave nothing to chance, and develop it as thoroughly as possible along the way. Don’t underestimate the power of people and a great idea. If you build from both, you’ll have a dynamic project that will carry you forward many years into the future.

Turning Your Photography Into A Global Mission

James Balog’s photographs have been exhibited in more than one hundred museums and galleries. His work has been featured in magazines like National Geographic, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. He’s won awards such as Outstanding Photographer of the Year from the North American Nature Photography Association and Person of the Year from PhotoMedia magazine.

But his latest work may set him apart from everything he’s done before.

Over the weekend, Andrew and I attended a screening of his latest documentary Chasing Ice. To say we were breathless and completely blown away puts it mildly. His images are amazing. And the storyline is something that will truly make you think. It’s all we’ve been talking about since we left the theater.

When Balog graduated from college with a science degree, the thought of working in a research lab was anything but exciting to him. He wanted to be out in the field. His passion for the environment led him to the farthest corners on earth, and eventually he did it all with a camera. And became recognized worldwide for it.

In 2005, he headed to the Arctic on assignment for National Geographic to capture images of Earth’s changing climate. The more he learned, the more he saw, the more determined he became to make a difference in Earth’s future. The Extreme Ice Survey began. And his multi-year project of documenting the changing glaciers using his revolutionary time-lapse cameras would soon be the proof needed to reach out to communities across the globe, waking them up to the reality of what is truly happening to our environment.

Balog doesn’t fit the typical photographer profile. He didn’t get an art degree – he received a science degree. His photography was simply a tool he used to accentuate his knowledge – it was a way for him to convey his findings in a truly visual way that would make people take notice of something they might not have seen before.

And what he’s doing today is truly the future of photography. It’s about taking what you love, what your passionate about, and telling the story through photographs. It could be in any field, any niche. The key is using your camera in such a way that you tell a story … and others see the story for what it is and help you pass it along to others.

If Balog’s latest project comes to your town, I highly recommend heading to the theater and taking in this film.

If not, I recommend picking up one of Balog’s books  – you’ll still gain ideas on how an idea and a passion can take place in any shape or form, and be used to create the career of your dreams.

10 Eco Friendly Gadgets For The Photographer

There is one thing for sure – every photographer loves gadgets. It starts with a camera, then a lens or two, then you graduate into computer equipment. Whether you are a photographer, or have a photographer in your life, here are some fun gadgets that will make what you do even more fun.


Love your iPad as much as I do? Then look for a fun way to protect it too. If you love the look and feel of a good book, you’ll love DoDoCase.

Grassy Lawn Charging Station

Charging stations are mandatory any more in any office. Instead of having a mat lying around, how about adding something more sophisticated?

Solar Globetrotter Kit

Whether you love to head out for a day trip, or spend several weeks traveling the globe, try out this solar globetrotting kit to keep all your electronic gadgets charged and ready to go, no matter where you are.

USB Rechargeable Batteries

Tired of throwing away a ton of batteries? If you are in the market for rechargeable batteries, check out these – USB rechargeable batteries can be recharged from any USB port, at home, office or on the go.

[Read more…]

Try WWF As A Green Photographer

Do you promote yourself as a green photographer? Then it’s important to find as many green tools as possible to run your business.

WWF is a new project, a new software program, with a goal of eliminating the need for printing. With traditional PDF documents, you can convert just about anything to a viewable format online. But with PDF’s, you have the option to hit “print”. WWF format eliminates the possibility of hitting that “print” button, making this the greenest way of sharing documents yet.

While there will always be things you need to print – contracts for instance – there are many things you don’t.

  • Price lists
  • Ordering instructions
  • Clothing consultation options
  • Album layouts

The new WWF download is currently available for free – just visit SaveAsWWF.com It’s currently available for MAC, with Windows option following shortly.

How To Market Yourself As A Green Photographer

Want to stand apart from the competition? Take a current trend and incorporate it into your photography business.

In Professional Photographer Magazine’s web exclusive article, Marketing Yourself as a Greener Wedding Photographer, they provide several steps to promote yourself as a green wedding photographer. Weddings definitely seem to be the key field of choice for greening up your business. But even if you run a portrait, commercial or even fine art photography business, you can still promote yourself as a green business. Here’s how.

1. Be genuine
If you want to promote yourself as a green photographer, you must become a green photographer. You can pick up many books at the library or bookstore on going green as a business, such as Smart Green by Jonathan Estes or Green to Gold by Daniel Esty. Or search online for what it means for a business to become green. You’ll quickly find a wealth of tips on a variety of ways to make your business more eco-friendly.

Then look at your business practices and policies as a whole, and start making changes. It may be moving your studio back home to avoid using gasoline. Or finding the best eco-friendly printers for your business cards and brochures. Green products – you can find a running list of green suppliers for photographers at Greener Photography.

You can also look for organizations (such as Greener Photography or the Green Business Association) that will show you how to become a green company, and provide you with the credentials as well. [Read more…]

7 Ways To Make Your Photography Eco-Friendly

A few months ago I wrote 5 Ways A Photographer Can Go Green and gave you some great tips for getting started on becoming more efficient in what you do. ecofriendly photography

Going green has been the big push for 2009, with no stops in the foreseeable future. So I thought I would continue on with that list, and add 7 more things you can do with your photography business to turn it into an eco-friendly studio.

1. Recycle. The easiest way to get started is by recycling everything you have. The largest waste a studio will have is paper; buy a recycling bin and put all your paper there instead of the trashcan. It requires about two thirds less energy to make a ton of paper from recycled paper instead of using wood pulp from trees. Recycle your ink cartridges from your printers, refilling when possible. Also find places that will recycle or refurbish your old electronics and photographic equipment when you move onto newer items.

2. Conserve energy. Andrew and I have a home office, and for most of the day, we’re in one small section of our home. Instead of heating the entire house, we keep it at a low 62 degrees, and use a space heater to heat the room we use. There are many things you can do like this. Replace all of your light bulbs with eco-friendly ones. Keep the thermostat down a degree or two in the winter, up a degree or two in the summer. Also keep lights, equipment, and computers off unless you’ll be using them.

3. Stay unplugged. Most of us have power strips and power cords plugged in all over our office and home. With computers, iPods, camera equipment and phones, it seems like we have to be plugged in all the time. Instead of leaving the chargers plugged in all the time, only plug them in when charging. Not only can this save you money from electrical use, but it will also help keep CO2 out of the atmosphere.
[Read more…]

5 Ways A Photographer Can Go Green

The world is a buzzgreen living with talk of “going green”. I was in the bookstore earlier this week, and was amazed they now have an entire section on green living. As a photographer and a business owner, I’ve lived an eco-friendly life for a long time. But once you start focusing on it, it is easy to come up with more things you can do.

Here are 5 ways you can start living greener as a photographer.

1. A great place to start is to become a member of Greener Photography. It’s a way of connecting with other photographers dedicated to finding environmentally safe ways to run your photography business. [Check out my article on working virtually]

2. Use eco-friendly products. GP Albums just announced a new eco-friendly photo album, The Green Photo Album. It’s made from 100 percent recycled content, and the pages are processed chlorine free, acid free and lignin free. They’re also made with electricity generated from windmills – how cool is that!

[Read more…]