Eco – a word-forming element referring to the environment and one’s relation to it. See – to perceive with the eyes, discern visually, to become aware of something through observation. EcoSee (Verb) – To record by photograph one’s unique visual perception of his or her surrounding world.
All photography by Gary Sharlow.
Education and Tours
It’s been a little over ten years since I first launched EcoSee Photography. Through the years, I have gained nearly a decade of teaching experience along with a passion to last a lifetime. I now offer photography classes in a variety of formats to include classroom based sessions, field based workshops and even as themed excursions. With a lot of encouragement from past students, these classes will now be presented in an online format to complement the live offerings. Please feel free to browse the Photography Classes and Field Workshops pages to learn more about past and future classes and tours. I am currently based out of the San Francisco area and do lead a fun Excursion Group if you are inclined to join. We just recently began to migrate from our soon to be retired Meetup Group over to our new home at this Facebook Group so we could better leverage the opportunity to share images and interact online. We hope you will join the group, and we really hope to see you out there!
The Art of Intention
For many years, I ran around chasing after amazing images to fill my memory cards. Somewhere along the way, I began to slow down and really work on the composition of the images. What was I trying to convey and how were my images to be used? Three main themes emerged over those next few years. First, I discovered the art of intention. This is about how the images look and the artistic techniques for creating images that reflect my vision. Next, I discovered my passion for teaching and helping people discover their style and voice in their images. Teaching was a very natural next step for me as I discovered endless joy in making new friends with common interests. I discovered that I also really enjoy helping students experience those ah ha moments of learning behind the lens. Finally, I began to contemplate the intention of my images. This is where I stumbled upon the concept of Conservation Photography and began to work with people to deploy photography as a way of having a positive impact on the world. What is the difference between a nature photographer and a conservation photographer you ask? For the conservation photographer, it is what you do with the images that matters. It’s about making images of the natural world to affect conservation for the natural world. Interested? Read on…
What on Earth have you photographed? In 2012 I founded the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition which is now presented by the California Academy of Sciences. The competition was founded as a way to reach a global audience with images and stories about conservation and the natural world. This project also features the stories of photographers who are dedicated to conservation efforts. BigPicture is now recognized among the top photo competitions of any genre as it was one of only 9 major competitions on the planet to receive a perfect 4 star rating in Photoshelter’s 2015 annual guide to photography competitions. Again recognized in 2016, BigPicture continues to be one of the most prestigious photography competitions in the world. Winning images are exhibited annually on the public floor of the California Academy of Sciences with winners sharing over $10,000 in annual cash prizes.
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 path toward the field of conservation photography was underway. 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 iNaturlaist aimed at helping anyone with a camera join educators and scientists in their effort to understand and protect the natural world.