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Photography for good



Godwits, September 2021

Like a number of people across New Zealand (and the world) I was captivated by the return flight of the godwits. These long-haul flyers take off from NZ, have a short stop off in China or North Korea and then land in Alaska, they make the return flight (non-stop) to NZ in spring. They are truly fascinating birds - in preparation for the long flight they ‘convert’ their internal organs (those used in digestion) to reduce weight during flight. This is the exact opposite to me - when travelling my digestive system usually gets a good work out and I put on weight. But, that's a different story.


I have always felt that it would be good to use photography as a tool to 'do good'; and have been able to do this in small ways so far - selling images to raise money for a charity in Myanmar, recording and reporting godwit and sea lion tags, for example, but I am convinced there is more that can be done.

Sealion EIPG shows off it's tag

Photographers are always looking for the 'unusual' whether it is the way the light shafts play across a forest, or how a bird interacts with another, or how humans behave in crowds. It sort of becomes an obsession and a sixth sense. Photographers are trained observers. It is these creative and technical skills that enable the work of truly brave photo journalists (I am thinking, in particular of those in war torn countries such as Afghanistan and Myanmar) to use photography to illustrate what is occurring, to create historical documentation of events and behaviour. A picture truly does paint a thousand words.


I will continue to ponder how photography can be channeled to help improve the earth and the lives of those who live upon it (sorry, astronauts you're on your own!). What do you think? Are there obvious ways that photography can 'do good' - my only caveat here is that, like most other creative endeavours photographers and artists are the ones who are always asked to work for free, that is not the solution.


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