Writing About Nature Through the Eyes of a Wildlife Photographer

Writing about Nature through the Eyes of a Wildlife Photographer 

(for teachers and other youth mentors) 
By Steve Maanum 

A Creation of My C.L.I.C.K. (Conservation Lessons Involving Cameras & Kids)

My passion has always involved sharing nature with others. As a classroom teacher I did that by combining traditional inside curriculum content with outside hands-on activities.

At retirement time I may have given up my classroom and my students, but I never considered giving up my passion for sharing nature with others.

Now I am helping others make nature connections through my nature photography workshops, my writing/photography, and my presentations in schools, regional libraries, and at Young Writer and Artist Conferences.

Writing about Nature through the Eyes of a Wildlife Photographer is a ‘yet to be published’ book that contains a series of ideas that I use to combine writing activities with nature photography. I am preparing each activity by condensing it to fit into an individual NAAEE Blog post as a way of sharing the ideas with you. It is possible that you are already doing a similar writing activity with your students. If so, please feel free to share it. If not, and you see value in the idea being presented, please use it or adapt it to fit your specific needs, and then let me know how it worked.

Activity #1

If animals could talk, what would they say?

As a photographer I try to look beyond the ordinary. This one day old merganser just dropped to the ground from its nest box. It was cute and with its mouth open, it could possibly be a candidate for a dialog box.

One day old merganser

But when it turned its head and looked right at me, it was evident that it needed to voice its opinion.

One day old Merganser with thought bubble

Now the photo can be used as a prop for a writing activity.

What is the duckling saying? There are no wrong answers. Have your students fill in the dialog box and have fun sharing their responses.

For all of the writing examples I will be presenting in this and future Blog posts, I am supplying the photographs, but an ample supply of photos can also be found in magazines or on calendars. A more rewarding experience would be to have your students take their own photos.

It might be hard for them to get wildlife photos, but they could start by using their own pets as photo subjects. Dogs, cats, horses, sheep, hamsters, and even gold fish definitely have something to say and they are more cooperative and less time consuming than photographing a one-day old merganser that just dropped to the ground from its nest box.

I have also used a Web 2.0 tool called Blabberize where students could record their response and then make it look like the animal is actually talking as it states its opinion.

Using digital cameras can be an effective way of helping youth trade some inside technology time for outside technology time while providing them with a variety of ways to express themselves through their photos and writing. 

Contributed by Steve Maanum,

Contact Steve Maanum if you're interested in getting a copy of Nature through the Eyes of a Wildlife Photographer