Conversation conservation

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 6.26.24 PMAfter giving a talk at WildSpeak in the Carnegie Institution for Science on Monday I don’t seem to have stopped talking. It was a great event, organized by the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), with a hugely positive and interactive audience. What is a conservation photographer, I hear you ask? Both Theo and I are Founding Fellows of the ILCP and, along with Jami, Reneé and the rest of the League our objective is to further environmental and cultural conservation through ethical photography. We use imagery to effect change. Our belief is that an image transcends boundaries, instantaneously, across cultures, age groups and genders. An image, after all, is worth a thousand words. As conservation photographers we differentiate ourselves from being ‘simply’ wildlife photographers by using storytelling to expose threats and problems surrounding a conservation issue. In other words, clicking that shutter is not the end of the image but the beginning. Yesterday we spent the entire day at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia. It was an awesome day! It was a day of incredible positivity. The students were so unbelievably well informed, already donating time, money and effort to the San Diego Zoo rhino program, or planting a native-plant butterfly garden or a host of other self-initiated projects. In this day and age of mostly negative conservation stories these students (and after 7 talks we met the entire school!) gave US hope. They inspired us to keep going, battle harder and lobby louder. I was completely refreshed by this upcoming generation who wanted a better world and already, in first grade, knew the consequences of excesses and damaged ecosystems. We talked our hearts out, offered ways we could all help and already, with feedback from the teachers, have been told that they are now living our suggestions. A totally rewarding experience!!

Pete Oxford