Raising climate change awareness through a lens

Nature Photography Day: Raising climate change awareness through a lens

By Alexandra Leroux

Ocean Bridge Ocean Ambassador

This is the second article in a three-part series focusing on Nature Photography Day, celebrated every year on June 15.
Part 1Part 3

Nature is how I reconnect, recharge and find inspiration in my day to day life. Living in the countryside, I have been fortunate enough to be enveloped by nature. However, while I always had access to mountains, forests and lakes, I never took full advantage of my surroundings—that is until I picked up my first camera. What began as a hobby, quickly turned into a passion. All of a sudden, I was hiking nearly every day with my camera in hand. Being able to capture nature’s beauty and share it with others is so invigorating. This passion helped me to seek out new locations to photograph, which eventually led me to discover many hidden gems in my community that I never knew about.

Observing the curiosity and appreciation other people have for my photographs led me to want to do more with this new skill. Why not use this medium of communication to tell a story or to educate others on something I am passionate about? That’s exactly what I did.

Last summer, I took part in an Arctic expedition as a staff member for Students on Ice. This Canadian organization brings together youth and educators from various backgrounds, from all around the world on expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. I was lucky enough to be part of the media team on the ship as the assistant producer. My passion for photography also gave me the opportunity to be an expedition photographer. Capturing images of not only the beauty of the Arctic but of what I was learning and experiencing had me extremely fulfilled.

Now, when somebody asks me if the ice is really melting in the poles, I can show them the images of the glacier I took in Sirmilik National Park in Nunavut. I can explain to them how this glacier has receded to the point that we had to hike to get to it, whereas historically it used to be right at the water’s edge. Images like these are not simply beauty shots but lived-experiences with educational components that I can share with others.

This expedition was eye-opening and had me seeking similar opportunities elsewhere. For this reason, I applied to a program called Ocean Bridge, where youth from across Canada engage in ocean literacy by taking part in rural and city-based expeditions, as well as initiate their own local service projects in their communities. My intention going into this program was to build on my ocean education and on my own network of like-minded youth who are equally as passionate about the protection of nature as I am.

Within this program, I decided to focus my local service project on keeping plastics out of waterways. While I do live in the country, I am also close to the nation’s capital. Thus, the focus of my project had to be something that both communities could relate to. People who live in the city may feel a disconnect to nature, as a majority are surrounded by more concrete than green space. I had to think of something tangible that visibly affects those living in both environments, hence the focus on plastics.

For my main project, I will do a photo gallery based on images which demonstrate what I have learned from not only the expeditions but also my experiences through my local community service projects. The goal of this gallery is to tell a story through these images and have people come away feeling as though they feel empowered to take action themselves.

When I first picked up my camera two years ago, I would have never guessed it would have led me to conduct my own ocean literacy gallery. While the future is uncertain, and the expeditions may or may not happen this year, I will still be moving forward with my project. It is important to feel a connection to the land and see nature as something that needs to be nurtured and protected.

All photos by Alexandra Leroux. To see more of her work, visit her Instagram page.



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