The power of photography is one that shouldn’t be underestimated.
People, myself included, can be moved to action or realization by photographs and what they document. Growing up in Miami, Florida I was always surrounded by concrete. Places like Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Fort Lauderdale were household names to me and places I would visit regularly with my family. However, Miami was not like New York or Los Angeles, it was infiltrated by life. Whether it was a beach lining the back of a museum in Downtown Miami, or shrubs crawling with lizards and small birds growing between two buildings on the tourist trap that is “calle ocho,” nature found a way to survive in the man-made jungle Miami was known to me as. Seeing beautiful snippets of South Florida’s landscape breaking through made me become interested in the places throughout the state where it grew without restraint.
Being able to drive thirty minutes and enter the Everglades, where one can see alligators, rare birds, and mossy mangroves is a blessing I am not ungrateful for. Although South Florida is growing at an incredible rate and building after building is joining the existing skyline, there is still nature here, and it deserves to be protected after all it has contributed to the people living here.
This mentality of protecting and maintaining the nature nearby is one that I have adopted and has only grown with my photography. This blend of art and environmental awareness is how I feel that preservation can be widespread. Art in general, not only photography, has influenced me over the last few years and played a large role in who I am today. It’s resulted in my appreciation and fascination with nature and the earth becoming stronger as well.
With art, especially of the visual variety, one can draw positive attention to nature. Instead of attracting individuals to a flower field or beach and having them trample it or litter on it, encourage others to document, explore and preserve. Witnessing a beautiful, inviting photograph of a place that seems mystical to an individual can nurse the same type of fascination and enchantment typically held with far away, romanticized locations towards nature near them. Maybe it comes in the form of a park a few miles away or a beach thirty minutes away—the point of looking at the art of an environmental activist or nature photographer is to see a distant place, acknowledge the beauty, and then turn towards your own city or neighborhood and feel a similar want to protect and document.
After all, global change starts locally. After saying, “Do you see how beautiful that is?” to a photograph of a flower field in France or a dessert in Africa, go out in your own state, find a similar beauty, and protect it.
— Blog and photographs by Nadine Rodriguez