BRIDGING SCIENCE AND ART: REACHING THE PUBLIC THROUGH GEOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPHY
As geologists, we frequently visit and photograph geologically significant landscapes. Some are places familiar to the public. Others are more remote --places that few people have seen but would love to hear about. Our images provide a powerful tool to engage non-geologists in thinking about places or natural forms in a geologic context. Carefully rendered photographs coupled with geologic information can lure people into understanding geology in a variety of forums, including public lectures, fine art exhibits, printed material, or the internet. It is up to the geologist-photographers, however, to provide geological context as interesting and compelling as their images. In public lectures, printed materials, or the internet, the photographer can provide context explicitly and address certain topics in detail, such as geologic time, landscape evolution, or hazards. In art exhibits, the photographer can also make the connection to geology but is generally restricted to a brief statement and the piece’s title. One printed example might be the annual GSA photo calendar, which uses artistic photographs from members to showcase geological themes.
Just as photography has long been an effective and necessary tool of the conservation movement, we can, and should, use photography as an outreach and educational tool in the geosciences.