Nature Photography Classes and Trips | DSLR

Featured Projects

Featured Projects

In this section, you will find some of the projects I have worked on over the past few years. My work is currently focused on reconnecting people with the natural world and helping nature photographers learn how to give a voice to the natural world. I’m also focused on the social psychology research that looks at the effectiveness of communicating with the public about pressing environmental issues. With over 50% of the world’s population now living in urban environments, we find ourselves in an ever more challenging position of getting people to understand their relationship to the natural world. Every minute of every day, we are dependent on the natural world and having an impact upon it. By helping people reconnect with nature, it is less likely that they will think of it as a “place out there”. Through connection, understanding and a sense of awe and wonder, we can foster the seeds for responsible stewardship of our planet and hope for bringing human activity back into balance. Earth is a tiny blue spec in the universe and the only planet we’ve got. Please see how I am employing an “inform, inspire, empower model of engagement” to my efforts to reconnect people to the natural world through some of the projects listed below.


Storytelling: Full Dome Shows

While working as the lectures manager at the California Academy of Sciences, I had the opportunity to observe how the public responds to learning about the natural world. One thing that is clear is that we are experiencing a worldwide environmental crisis. Scientists and educators are eager to stop the destruction. The public, however, is generally not responding to this crisis messaging being delivered by these well meaning advocates for the natural world. In fact, people often told me that they felt they were being shamed and expressed that the talk resulted in a feeling of helplessness as well as intellectual exhaustion from the constant doom and gloom messages in these lectures. Many of the regular lecture attendees would tell me that they didn’t even want to attend the “environmental crisis” talks anymore and would only come to the “fascinating research” talks in the future. This is when I began to explore the social psychology research about environmental communication and seek alternate storytelling frameworks that would engage, rather than shut down, the general public with regards to these important issues.

Global Reach: Photo Competitions

In 2010, I designed a full service photo competition management system. The platform included the front end website seen by the contestants, the entry and payment platform and an online judging system. That same year, I launched my first international photo competition. In 2012, I rebranded this platform and competition at the Academy and relaunched it as the highly acclaimed BigPicture International Nature Photography Competition presented by the California Academy of Sciences. With the application of social media marketing and the EcoSee Photo Competition CMS, BigPicture was quickly recognized as one of the top 10 photo competitions of any genre anywhere in the world. When I first proposed this project to the Academy I also pitched the idea that they run an online magazine that featured the photographers we would be meeting from around the world and all of the great work they were doing for conservation. While the secondary proposal was not accepted at that time, the Academy launched an online magazine site called Biographic in 2016 that did just what I had proposed. Some of the competition judges are editors and contributing photographers for the magazine while some of the photographers who enter the competition each year have also been prominently featured.

Field Based Photography Workshops

Community Building: Citizen Science

It was while working at the Academy that I first had the opportunity to deploy photography as an engagement tool to help people reconnect with and explore the natural world. It started with the meetup group where I discovered that there were many photographers who were looking for an easy way to contribute their images to conservation. My students inspired me to do some research, and I discovered a wonderful tool called iNaturalist that met their needs perfectly. iNaturalist gives you the ability to learn about the natural world through photography. You can take a picture of a snake, for example, and then load it into the system and ask for help identifying the species. A scientist on the other end will write you back and identify it along with a link to all kinds of information about the animal. And, the sighting serves as research data for scientists. After piloting some programs through the meetup, I designed a program where my students could use iNaturalist to learn about the natural world while also contributing to conservation. This program became the seed of the Academy’s citizen science program and led to the Academy acquiring iNaturalist aimed at helping anyone with a camera join educators and scientists in their effort to understand and protect the natural world.

Through My Eyes

EcoSee Photography