How Can Photography Boost Your Nature Awareness?

Now that everyone has smart phones, taking photographs has never been so easy, especially capturing nature. Because wherever you go, your models will be all around you and they will always be in all their glory to be captured. The scene may be a café, a friend’s garden or a deep forest but you will always be ready so long you have your phone with you.

In photo sharing platforms like Instagram, Flickr,…etc., you’ll find an endless sea of amazing plant photos, taken by non-professionals and with smart phones (Particularly platforms like Instagram, where phone photography is highly encouraged.). So yes, you don’t even need a pro or semi-pro camera! Of course we don’t ignore the difference between a phone and a camera but cameras are kind of luxurious hobby equipments -if you are not a professional- and what we care here is intention:)

Cosmos bipinnatus and the playful spider – All the things written in this post were true stories – told by the victim herself 😀

Now, whichever equipment you use, after you turn back home and take a quick look at the photos you took, most of the time you’ll realize that, there’s always something more than you intended to focus and capture -specially if you are a camera rookie like me and think you focus on the main thing but often everthing but your main target becomes the photo itself- :D. For example when you look at your beautifully captured white cosmos, you’ll see a weird looking greenish spider, there’s another plant’s bud was fallen on the leaf of your glorious lily and actually it’s more interesting than the lily itself or there are tiny blue flowers right under the dahlia you’ve intended to capture… Well, I’m sure that if you are reading this post, you’ll be curious on occasions like these and start searching what these photobombers are and there you are learning about a new species that you would never even notice existing. You may even fall in love with these new species – True story – I did:)- and the next thing you know, that photobomber overshades the dahlia or the rose and becomes your main model. Photographs are perfect magnifying glasses for the little details you didn’t realize while you were taking them.

Veronica agrestis – those tiny photobombers! Nature’s own Delft blue!

That is one point on how photography boosts your nature knowledge. Let’s check out the second one which unites the power of photography, human curiosity and social media.

As we mentioned it above, social media platforms like Instagram, you will find thousands of plant photos. As a nature lover, with/without a garden and without a professional relationship with plantae, you’ve decided to share your photos via one of these platforms. When you first start, I’m almost sure that these photos will be of glamorous flowers like roses, paeonies, dahlias, lilies… etc. and rest assured that they’ll be pretty ‘liked’. But after a while, you’ll discover that high ranked garden flowers which can be seen everywhere from gardens to restaurant tables are very ‘easy’ to capture and already shared very often by the community. Then the magic happens and you start searching for more interesting, rare, even unique plants to photograph. This adventure will make you pay more and more attention to plants around you and take you to botanical gardens, hikings in forests, sometimes even to the gardens of people you don’t know -like I do, getting permission to photograph someone’s garden is also a great way of making new friends, just remember to always get permission-. See the trick? You’ve started to live closer to nature! Of course there’s a chance that you may have a plant that you are particularly interested and you may choose only that plant to photograph. That makes almost no difference, you’ll still be on the hunt for it!

Lunaria annua, or in fact her glamorous seed pods. Maybe you’ve recognized them just now, for these seed pods are commonly used in home decoration bouquet arrangements. Want to see what she really looks like when blooming? Stay tuned 😉

Wait! The magic continues…

Again, if you are reading this post right now, I’m sure that you are not satisfied by sharing your photos with tagging them only as ‘flowers’. Yes, now you’ll ‘investigate’ the plant you’ve captured. How? You’ll start with colours, then number of petals. Didn’t work? You will go on with the petal and leaf shape, plant size,… Maybe you’ll try to use an identification key? Still no result? Give it a tag like ‘namethisplant’ or ‘whatsthatplant’ and someone who knows what it is will surely help you.

Let’s summarize what just happened here;

You’ve started to pay attention (or more attention than before) to the plants around you

You’ve started to live one step closer to nature,

You’ve learnt -intentionally or not- useful knowledge about plant morphology and maybe even how to use identification keys,

You’ve found out how to identify plants and what to look for if you want someone else to do it for you,

You made new friends who shares your love for plants,

You’ve ‘noticed’ and learnt about new species.

And while all those things were happening, you were just having fun with your hobby – not a single extra effort needed!

Anagallis arvensis, sooo tiny in size but not in the beauty!

Now, it is a fact that your journey may not contain all those steps, yet will at least two or three. I think what is underlined in this post is especially important for young people, children and teenagers. Not only that these ages are the most important for nature education and awareness, young population is already very much interested in photography as we mentioned before, thanks to smart phones, social media and different apps. I strongly believe that encouraging them for nature photography is a kind of investment for a generation with a higher nature awareness and knowledge. Because plants and animals will be their ‘models’ to photograph, they’ll instinctly want to protect them. Who knows, maybe there will be a generation that knows a better way of bringing flowers home and keeping them forever other than plucking and picking them. Wouldn’t it be great? 😉


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