The National Geographic Society (NatGeo) held its inaugural NatGeo on Campus at the University of Miami on November 9-10th. Their goal was simple: to empower the next generation so that they can understand and care for our planet. The first day of the event was packed with panels on topics ranging focused on raising awareness to the different social and ecological issues facing our world today. All of which centered around the idea of visual storytelling through photography and multimedia. The second day was filled with different workshops where the best of National Geographic taught different techniques of visual storytelling to students.
Many of the speakers expressed how the role of the media was extremely important as it allowed for the audience to look at pressing issues around the world through the lens of exploration. The first panel had science photographer, Anand Varma of National Geographic, explaining his process and vision when picturing different complex topics. Varma gave the audience a walkthrough of three different subjects where he had to convey the effects of parasites, the metamorphosis of bees and his personal pitch of capturing the hummingbird.
“My purpose in [these images] is different than capturing every detail,” said Varma. “It’s more about stopping the reader of National Geographic and inspiring them to read the caption, to read more about it.”
Each subject required the right shot that would draw the audience in enough to want to know more and make their way to the article. To Varma, the journey to the perfect shot was influenced by the art style of three different works: film, anime and graphic novels. With film came the hard lighting, specifically toward old black & white films. With anime came the selective attention to detail. With graphic novels came the dramatic, harsh images. Together, these elements came together to capture the perfect shot along with an ongoing theme of capturing the subject through the eyes of science.
Through different techniques, Varma is able to capture the attention of the audience toward the science behind his subjects
“I think that is the key value to storytelling. The ability to connect people to what you care about,” Varma said.
Through use of different multimedia, the National Geographic team is able to bring important issues facing the plant to the attention of the public. One of the panels on Florida in 2100, brought to light the issue of rising water levels and what the city can still do to differ this future. Through photography, NatGeo is able to tell the story that is true to the complexities of ecology. A look at all the different factors and attributes that communicate complex scientific research.
Other issues affecting the state are that of traffic congestion and wildlife conservation. For every issue comes the mission of photography to capture the attention of the public in order for them to take action. Florida being just one of the many topics of concern that need action to be made and the education of the public to bring about change.