I like to make pretty pictures. Pictures that celebrate what’s ‘right’ with the world, what’s beautiful. My hope is that those pictures will inspire people to preserve wilderness, nature, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that, but thankfully, there are those that are willing to make pictures that are not so pretty in the hopes of making change, and preserving, too. It can work both ways.
I was looking for another image today and came upon this photo that I had made years back when a sunken ship off the coast of Pt. Reyes National Seashore was releasing oil. With rough seas, the ship had somehow turned or broke apart a bit more and the tar and oil blobs were hitting the shoreline in northern California. I remember how horrible I felt watching the news- and so Jed and I went to Drakes Beach to photograph some of the evidence on the beach for our stock files and to send out to any conservancy organization that needed them. Our plan was to photograph details of the oil on the beach amongst shellfish, kelp, etc. But when we saw this oiled grebe beaching itself, that became our focus – no pun intended. While Jed ran to the parking lot to call the rescue patrol, I kept my eye on the grebe. It would occasionally float back into the ocean on the returning wave, and then get beached again a little further down the sand. I kept a safe distance (this was with a 300mm lens) and kept photographing it. When Jed returned to the beach he had the guy with him, and Jed got a great image of the man with the net and the Grebe.
These pictures and the experience have never left my mind. Seeing it again today, reminded me of what’s happened in the Gulf, but in a magnitude that is overwhelming to the mind. And I’m so glad that there are many photographers who could rush there to get pictures, to spread the visuals across the country in the hopes of bringing help, and making change. You rock, whoever you are out there! At times like this no pretty picture has the power to effect change like the others can.
YES, I agree with both of you, Scott and Wendy. Thanks for commenting.
Nice post- and so timely…
I, too, commend those photographers who take pictures that make a difference. More often than not, it is the photograph that speaks louder than words to bring about positive changes in the world…
Photographers can affect change by photographing the world around them. A photograph of your grebe and those coming out of the Gulf, bring the horror and truth in a way written words can not convey.
Thank you and to all those who bring tell those stories through photos. Sometimes at great risk to themselves.