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Using “Fairy Dust” to Help
Them Fly: The Strategic Use
of Photography in the
Conservation Movement
Elizabeth A. Gervais
Ph...
Research Goal
• Examine conservation organizations’ use of
photography.
• Why partner with iLCP?
• What were the goals of ...
International League of
Conservation Photographers (iLCP)
“As a project-driven organization, our goal
is to translate cons...
• Drew from 25 iLCP partnering organizations
• 7 in-depth, semi-structured interviews from
July 2013 to February 2014
• di...
Tactics
“forms of collective action publicly deployed,
whether in-person or via audio, visual, or written
media, in servic...
Choice of tactics
• Strategic and rational (least costly)
• Shaped by resources, organization, and different
political con...
Art as a nimble strategy
“I think that [the emphasis on art] came from the
fact that 350.org was always working low- budge...
“Nowadays we are as likely to use a shot from a
renowned, skilled, highly trained professional using
state of the art capt...
Why partner with iLCP?
• Try something new
• Enhance their current communications efforts
• Soft methods of resistance
People are like why are you taking
these crazy photos? Why are you
spending money on these photos?
“These forests are real...
Fairy dust
“Someone was criticizing it, calling it, ‘oh it’s fairy
dust.’ And so I turned around…and it was a very
importa...
Try something new
“Because we do a lot of moving images and video
and I wanted to try a different way to connect with
peop...
Enhancing current efforts
“Because a lot of what we do is about communicating how
wonderful this place where we work is an...
Enhancing current efforts
“The iLCP…gave us the access to Daniel and some of
these other guys and we also wanted to use th...
Soft resistance
“I wanted to careful not to be too antagonistic
because I had a relationship with the government…”
Soft resistance
“I saw some of the other [iLCP expeditions] that
happened, there was one that happened the year
before cal...
What were the goals of the
iLCP expeditions?
• Communicate
• Impact decision-makers
• Generate networks
Communicate
“The primary goal was to assemble a set of
compelling, wonderful, mostly beautiful, although
some were of dest...
Impact decision-makers
“The goal for me was to have an impact on…some of
the decision-makers in French Polynesia about if ...
Generate/strengthen networks
“The secondary goal of our expedition…in everything
[that] we do, we are trying to strengthen...
What can we learn from
organizations working with
conservation
photographers?
• Justification
• They understand their cont...
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Using "Fairy Dust" to Help Them Fly: The Strategic Use of Photography in the Conservation Movement

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Photography in the conservation movement

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Using "Fairy Dust" to Help Them Fly: The Strategic Use of Photography in the Conservation Movement

  1. 1. Using “Fairy Dust” to Help Them Fly: The Strategic Use of Photography in the Conservation Movement Elizabeth A. Gervais Ph.D. candidate, Sociology University of California, Riverside eschw001@ucr.edu • @eagervais
  2. 2. Research Goal • Examine conservation organizations’ use of photography. • Why partner with iLCP? • What were the goals of the expedition?
  3. 3. International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) “As a project-driven organization, our goal 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.”
  4. 4. • Drew from 25 iLCP partnering organizations • 7 in-depth, semi-structured interviews from July 2013 to February 2014 • director of communications, communications and policy director, communications manager, senior manager of marketing and science, director, officer, president Key staff from partnering conservation organizations
  5. 5. Tactics “forms of collective action publicly deployed, whether in-person or via audio, visual, or written media, in service of a sustained campaign of claims making.” -Larson 2013 p. 866
  6. 6. Choice of tactics • Strategic and rational (least costly) • Shaped by resources, organization, and different political contexts • Cultural perspective: tactical choice is a process that involves gathering, interpreting, and evaluating information within contexts that may be changing, uncertain, and even contradictory
  7. 7. Art as a nimble strategy “I think that [the emphasis on art] came from the fact that 350.org was always working low- budget, and the question was, ‘how do we get attention, how do we get media, and how do we inspire people to be a part of this?’…” --Alex Bea 350.org (in Hestres 2013 p. 10)
  8. 8. “Nowadays we are as likely to use a shot from a renowned, skilled, highly trained professional using state of the art capture, processing, and image filing equipment, as we are to use one from a cheap mobile phone in the hands of a teenager in Kabila.” --Wayne Minter, audiovisual manager of Amnesty International (in Ritchin 2013 p. 105)
  9. 9. Why partner with iLCP? • Try something new • Enhance their current communications efforts • Soft methods of resistance
  10. 10. People are like why are you taking these crazy photos? Why are you spending money on these photos? “These forests are really, really cool…when you’re in them you just…you feel small and big all at the same time and…they’re captivating and…they’re like fairy forests [that] you might have imagined as a little kid. Everyone was like, oh my god, [she] likes to save her fairy forest. I just think they tell a different kind of story than words can tell, than video can tell…it just it helps people understand, it brings people to that place, and makes them connect with it, in a much more personal way.”
  11. 11. Fairy dust “Someone was criticizing it, calling it, ‘oh it’s fairy dust.’ And so I turned around…and it was a very important donor, actually; so I turned around and I was like, ‘you know what? It has helped us fly. Your fairy dust works. So call it whatever, just keep it coming, okay, I can’t fly without dust.’”
  12. 12. Try something new “Because we do a lot of moving images and video and I wanted to try a different way to connect with people. I had heard about iLCP in the past, I did not really know exactly what they did, or what the impact of their work was. I did think they had quite a nice reputation, and I felt I wanted to see how that worked, and get some nice images out of it as well.”
  13. 13. Enhancing current efforts “Because a lot of what we do is about communicating how wonderful this place where we work is and the wonder of the animal, plants, forest, reef, and of course images are very very powerful, photos are a part of that, not only photos, images generally, by the way we deal a lot with visual art as well, but I wanted to partner with iLCP because we really wanted to have some powerful images to help us communicate about the wonders of the place.”
  14. 14. Enhancing current efforts “The iLCP…gave us the access to Daniel and some of these other guys and we also wanted to use their contacts as another platform, just to get the information out there on different levels and a different world than what we are accustomed to.”
  15. 15. Soft resistance “I wanted to careful not to be too antagonistic because I had a relationship with the government…”
  16. 16. Soft resistance “I saw some of the other [iLCP expeditions] that happened, there was one that happened the year before called the Great Bear RAVE and it went to a rainforest in British Columbia and looked very closely at the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and that was a very activist approach. We would give it more gentle approach just because it’s a very different situation in the Philippines where we were working.”
  17. 17. What were the goals of the iLCP expeditions? • Communicate • Impact decision-makers • Generate networks
  18. 18. Communicate “The primary goal was to assemble a set of compelling, wonderful, mostly beautiful, although some were of destruction, images that could help us tell a story in a compelling way.”
  19. 19. Impact decision-makers “The goal for me was to have an impact on…some of the decision-makers in French Polynesia about if they were going to put in any marine protections. We could give them a scientific report, which would have a lot of numbers, facts, and percentages, and that would not be massively inspiring but to help somebody feel like they need to take action, there’s a difference between statistics and emotions. If you want somebody to feel that they need to take action on this… you have to make them feel that it’s worth doing something.”
  20. 20. Generate/strengthen networks “The secondary goal of our expedition…in everything [that] we do, we are trying to strengthen the international partnerships that we’re in. We had two iLCP photographers and we partnered them with one local Indonesian photographer, so was not an iLCP member but was one of Indonesia’s premier professional wildlife photographers, and he joined up as well, so another goal…was to strengthen that partnership and have everybody learn from one another.”
  21. 21. What can we learn from organizations working with conservation photographers? • Justification • They understand their context • Indirect outcomes

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