What Is conservation photography? "Witness" documentary explains with beautiful images (Video)

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Images via screengrabs of Witness video on Vimeo

Skilled photographers have long been using the camera to document wildlife, as well as to document human-driven changes in the natural world. Wildlife photography has been a genre for nearly as long as the camera has existed, but it is only recently that a concentration called "conservation photography" has come into its own. It might sound self-explanatory, but what exactly is conservation photography and how is it used? A short documentary directed by Neil Ever Osborne explains it, with some of the most powerful images of the natural world you've ever seen.

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Conservation photography as a discipline is extraordinarily new relative to the age of photography, recognized as its own category starting around 2005.

The Wikipedia entry states, "Conservation photography combines nature photography with the proactive, issue-oriented approach of documentary photography as an agent for sustaining the biosphere and ethnosphere. Conservation Photography furthers environmental or cultural conservation through ethical photography."

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In other words, conservation photography is as much about what a photographer does with the photo -- what that photo is used for after it is taken -- as it is about the subject or beauty of the image itself.

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Here, the photographers behind the burgeoning discipline explain how it all came about -- while showing some extraordinary images of nature that prove the power behind the discipline.

Witness: Defining Conservation Photography Feature from Neil Ever Osborne on Vimeo.

The International League of Conservation Photographers is at the forefront of this new discipline. It's mission is:

As a project-driven organization, our mission is to translate conservation science into compelling visual messages targeted to specific audiences. We work with leading scientists, policy makers, government leaders and conservation groups to produce the highest-quality documentary images of both the beauty and wonder of the natural world and the challenges facing it.

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As Cristina Mittermeier noted in the interview, when she first Googled "conservation photography," the search results came up with how to preserve photos for museums. Now, a Google search turns up 21,300,000 results, at the top of which is the International League of Conservation Photographers and Neil Ever Osbornes's website along with a variety of other conservation photographers' sites. The genre is coming into its own.

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