Q&A with iLCP photographer Neil Ever Osborne
This summer, Save Our Wild Salmon (SOS) and the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) have joined forces to visually tell the awe-inspiring story of the Snake River's endangered one of a kind salmon and the place they call home.
iLCP photographer Neil Ever Osborne partnered with SOS through Tripods in the Mud (TIM), an initiative of iLCP that helps partner professional photographers like Neil with conservation organizations for the creation of visual materials on a specific region or issue.
In two photo expeditions, iLCP and SOS will travel to the epicenter of the Snake River salmon’s spawning grounds in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho and the high desert of Eastern Oregon. Working collectively to capture engaging and provocative images, the team will provide a visual narrative to bring the story of the Snake River’s endangered one of a kind salmon and their epic migration home.
We caught up with Neil for an interview, and here’s what he had to say…
Q: You spend a lot of your time capturing images of some of the world’s most threatened animals and ecosystems. What is conservation photography all about?
A: In a simple sense, conservation photography involves using photographs as tools for conservation. A lot of the conservation photographer’s work is focused on what happens after the image has been captured — what a photographer does with their pictures and who they put them in front of is the crucial component of conservation photography.
Q: How did you get into conservation photography?
A: I have trained and worked as a conservation biologist. The shift into photography came when I realized I could speak to broader audiences, and reach them more effectively, using visuals to enhance the research.
Q: Why did you decide to take on telling the story of Snake River salmon?
A: When I was told about the incredible migratory feat these salmon undertake — they swim more than 900 miles to spawning grounds while climbing over 6,000 feet in elevation — joining the cause to try and bring their numbers back was easy.
Q: Before you traveled to Idaho, you hadn’t spent much time working with salmon or rivers. How did you feel coming away from that first expedition?
A: The wild, remote landscape hit me first. The vast sweeps of protected habitat are unlike many other places in the USA that I’ve seen. I’m from Ontario, Canada, where you just don’t see terrain like you do in the Pacific Northwest. It’s no wonder the salmon try and make it back there.
Q: Tripods in the Mud is all about collaboration. Tell us a little about how you collaborated with folks on the ground. How did the team add to the story?
A: The Tripods in the Mud initiatives are born out of the synergy created when visual resources are valued and vision is shared. My photographs were only possible thanks to the insight provided by Save Our Wild Salmon and Idaho Rivers United, among others — the partners I had in Idaho. Everything from logistics and scheduling to transportation and field scouting were provided. For example, local guides like Ed Cannady and Nappy Newman were ever so valuable to me. Knowing the landscape and the animals like these gentlemen did shaved considerable time off our efforts to get the images we needed.
Q: You’re heading back to the Northwest to capture Snake River salmon coming home. What are you looking forward to on this trip?
A: I am not looking forward to the cold alpine water but I am excited to get wet. On this second expedition we will be seeking images that will connect an audience with these fish. This will mean getting close to the animals when we can. I am also just as excited to work with the Tripods In The Mud partners again.
Q: A lot of outdoor enthusiasts are also photo enthusiasts. What are your three best tips for taking better photos on our adventures?
A: 1. Get your hands on a super lightweight lens (e.g. 50mm f1.8) so you can climb higher and get somewhere faster; 2. In our highly saturated visual world perspective means everything so take the photo that everyone else is not taking; and 3. When you get back from your adventure show your pictures to influential people in your neighborhood.
Have your own questions you want to ask Neil?
Submit them via Facebook, Twitter or leave a comment on this blog! If you’re using Facebook, make sure to tag iLCP in your question, and on Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #ilcptim.
We’ll pick 3 questions a week to post on the blog with answers from Neil! And on August 27, we’ll pick one lucky person who has submitted a question to win a free pair of Teva sandals!