Photos can connect you with nature nearby and far away

World Photo Day was held on Friday, Aug. 19, to celebrate the history of photography and how photos affect our lives.
Photography is one of my favorite things — I love taking photos and I love looking at photos that other people took.
Pictures can be powerful. They can educate and inspire people to action without using any words.
Of course, some of my favorite photos are photos of nature. Even though I’ve never been to Africa, I have experienced some small piece of it through many excellent photos of wild animals that roam the plains and climb in the jungles.
Photos can be very positive and uplifting; they can make you feel good about the world and about yourself. They can also shed light on bad situations and terrible things.
Recently, I was very moved by some photos I saw of polar bears starving to death in the arctic. Polar bears hunt on top of the ocean on frozen sheets of ice. Because the ice is melting away more and more every year, there’s less and less habitat for polar bears to hunt on.
Someone could have told me about the polar bears’ plight, but without seeing the photos of what was happening to them, it wouldn’t have been the same.
Besides connecting me to other places around the world, I also enjoy taking photos of nature myself because it requires patience.
In order to take a good photo in nature, you usually have to sit and wait and watch. This process of waiting and watching in nature is enjoyable all on its own even without taking any photos and it makes me feel more connected to the natural world.
After I take photos, I can share them with other people to give them a little taste of what I experienced.
Taking photos can be very educational, both for the people who see the photos later and for me as I take them. I have learned more about birds than I ever thought I would thanks to taking photos of birds in the wild and trying to identify them.
Thanks to social media, I can share my photos with friends and family easily. And I get to see their photos, too. One of my aunts takes beautiful photos of nature in southern Ohio all the time and her photos always brighten my day.
Social sharing of photos allows people to educate each other about what they’ve discovered in nature, too. I have friends who will tag me in photos they take and ask me to help identify the animal they saw. I’ve similarly requested help from folks online in identifying plants and birds that I took photos of.
One of my favorite places on the Internet is the “What’s This Bird?” page on the website Reddit. The page is a community of bird watchers and bird experts who help identify photos of birds. Even if I don’t have a photo of an unknown bird to post, it’s fun to look through all the posted photos and try to guess what the birds are before I look at the answers from the experts. The page can be visited at reddit.com/r/whatsthisbird.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a photographer, I encourage you to celebrate the anniversary of photography by getting outside and using photography as a way to enjoy the natural world around you.