WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Scuba Diving|June 2020

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Your images can open others’ eyes to the beauty— and the peril—of the undersea world
ALEX MUSTARD

There must be very few divers who are not seriously concerned for our oceans. Corals are suffering, kelp is disappearing, stocks are overfished and big animals are far, far less common than they once were. Our planet is only so big, and with 7.7 billion people demanding its resources, there can be no surprise that we’re squeezing nature out. A staggering 96 percent of all mammals on Earth (by weight) are either humans or our livestock—wild mammals account for just 4 percent. We catch 100 million sharks each year; scientists estimate that 90 percent of all large ocean hunters are gone. Our carbon emissions already are fundamentally changing the planet’s climate and many ocean ecosystems, from sea ice at the poles to the coral kingdoms of the tropics.

A lot of underwater photographers are motivated to help sway hearts and minds to the oceans’ cause. And we are well placed to help, by producing images that remind people what is at stake and by startling them with pictures that encourage a change in behavior. Photographs have underpinned just about every successful environmental campaign, and these days reach even more people through traditional media and social media. However, to maximize our impact, we must combine attention-grabbing photography with a clear vision for the message we want to communicate.

TIP 1

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Effective conservation photography rarely happens by accident. You can greatly improve the power of your pictures with preparation, considering ahead of time the factors that will give your images impact. The two most important are the audience you want to connect with, and the message you want them to take away. These will dictate what and how you shoot.

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June 2020