Introduction to Conservation Photography by Robin Moore

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On Christmas Eve 1968, astronaut William Anders captured a photograph that depicted the earth as a wispy blue orb suspended in space.

The image — described by Galen Rowell as the most influential image ever taken — crystallized in our collective conscience the beauty and the fragility of our shared home. The impact of the photograph was so profound that many have credited it to the birth of the environmental movement — a testament to the power of the single image in mobilizing people at a global scale.

Conservation photography has just this century been defined as the active use of the photographic process and its products to advocate for conservation outcomes, but in reality photographs have been used to celebrate the beauty of the natural world, inspiring conservation outcomes, for over 150 years. In 1864, Abraham Lincoln was so inspired by Carleton Watkins stereographic photographs of Yosemite, some 2,000 miles away, that he signed a bill that declared the valley inviolable, paving the way for the National Parks system in the United States.

As photographers of the natural world, we have the tools to connect people with the beauty and wonder that still exists in the world, but an increasing responsibility to shed light on the threats it faces, with the goal of motivating people to become good stewards of our earth.

The power of photography lies in its ability to elicit an immediate emotional response, and in the digital age images have become a language that transcend boundaries of language and culture. Images have come down from the cave walls to the gallery walls, down to our computer screens right to the palm of our hands.

While this deluge of imagery — some 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day — presents challenges in elevating the importance of images depicting issues worthy of our attention, the democratization of publishing platforms provides an unprecedented opportunity for photographers seeking to use their images to evoke change. We no longer rely upon the permission of gatekeepers to have our images seen by thousands of people. With the power to post directly to a global audience, our challenge now is to make our images, and the stories behind them, count. To steer our audience towards a deeper appreciation of the fragility of life on this wispy blue orb, and towards actions that safeguard the wonders of the natural world from which we have drawn our deepest inspiration.

A core part of NANPA’s mission statement is to promote the art and science of nature photography as a medium of nature appreciation and environmental protection. NANPA works in the following ways to follow its mission.


New! Conservation Photography Handbook

NANPA is proud to announce the release of the Conservation Photography handbook as developed by the Conservation Committee. This important tool is the first entry in the NANPA Highlights series and is now available for download by members; access it through the member benefits page. 


Using Your Photography to Get Involved in Conservation Projects

Looking for a way to do something for the environment with your photography? Maybe you’re just looking to add another purpose to the photos you take. Whatever the reason, NANPA’s Conservation Committee encourages you to choose a citizen science subject that interests you and find out how you can take photographs and submit them to a larger research project.

Skilled nature photographers can contribute to citizen science projects with a range of subjects including insects, plants, wildlife, landscapes, mammals, butterflies and so much more. The Conservation Committee has compiled a list of projects that are currently looking for citizen science contributors.

View Available Citizen Science Projects


NANPA Conservation Committee

The Conservation Committee (formerly the Environment Committee) is one of NANPA’s oldest committees. The Conservation Committee works to educate members on conservation photography and conservation issues of importance to nature photographers. It encourages and informs nature photographers on how to undertake conservation projects, helps support and promote conservation projects of nature photographers, and is exploring creative ways for NANPA to sponsor or support broader member projects. The Conservation Committee also helps select the recipient of the Philip Hyde Grant – a grant to support a NANPA member’s environmental photography project.

Committee Members:

Jaymi Heimbuch (Co-chair)
Dave Huth (Co-chair)
Clay Bolt
Dee Ellison
Sean Fitzgerald
Melissa Groo
Morgan Heim
Steven Johnson — View his story on vernal pools
Robin Moore
Donald Quintana
Gabby Salazar
Krista Schlyer
Andrew Snyder — View his story on the sockeye salmon spawn
Susan Day



The NANPA Environmental Statement (English | Español) was passed by the NANPA Board as guidance to our members.

Click here to read about the History of the NANPA Conservation Committee.