First, a story:
One of my first-year university instructors used photographs extensively in his talks on the natural history of Ontario. Although other profs also used photos to enliven their lecture slides, there was one important distinction: Michael had taken all of his own photographs. Each beautiful snapshot, whether it captured a unique structure, interaction or behaviour, had a personal story to go with it. He did not lecture so much as weave together a web of related images and anecdotes. He showed me how photography could be used to tell stories – to communicate with others.
Years later, inspired by thoughts of my old undergrad mentor and by the photography and story-telling of nature bloggers, I began trying my hand at capturing my own outdoor observations with my camera. As a student of entomology I was naturally drawn to small six- and more-legged subjects, so my techniques and tools have adjusted over time to accommodate the “macro” world. I now use my own photographs in academic presentations, during lectures, in handouts, in articles I write, and on this blog. I’ve also been sharing my images with other students, researchers and writers as complementary components of their own written work (theses, field guides, print and web articles, etc.).
Photography has become a critical component of how I communicate with about nature, science, and my research. Each photograph I take has a story that I know intimately. I envision myself in a large lecture hall one day, weaving stories and images together for an audience of spellbound students.
Now, the point:
I’m sharing this with you because I want you to understand the rather bold request I’m about to make: I am going to ask you to help me attend an insect photography workshop. BugShot 2012 is the second in a series of insect workshops presented and instructed by Alex Wild, Thomas Shahan and John Abbot; three of the best insect photographers in the world. BugShot represents provides an unrivaled opportunity to learn from and exchange ideas with both expert photographers and professional entomologists.
I attended this workshop last year as a complete photography neophyte: at the time, I took all of my pictures using the “Auto” mode on my camera. The information I took away last year was excellent, but I was left with one regret: I wish I’d had a better handle on the basic ins-and-outs of photography before attending. I could have learned, experimented and absorbed so much more than I did (probably resulting in a much better keep:toss ratio of images!) After acquiring a bit of used equipment (and making more out of cardboard, tape and elastic bands), and spending lots of time practicing in the field and the studio, I think I’m now at the point where I’ve reached the fundamental level of proficiency I’d wished I had.
Bottom line: The tools and techniques I can learn and practice at BugShot 2012 will have a direct and perhaps profound effect on my future contributions to science and science communication.
I was able to attend last year thanks to a generous student waiver that covered my registration fee. This year, other students will benefit from the waivers. But: I am still on a grad student budget and there is no alternate funding available to me through academic channels. So, I have decided to try crowd-funding some of my expenses. The workshop registration is $675 and the flight will be approximately $700.
If you would like to contribute, you can:
1. Make a PayPal donation to tgiq [at] hotmail (dot) com (or use the handy button below). Please include a mailing address so I can send you a token of my appreciation!
2. Snail mail works too 🙂 Send me an email to get the top-secret coordinates.
3. Get some bug-geeky swag from my new store. There are shirts, mugs and a few other things in a variety of styles; my “commission” is 20% of the purchase price (before shipping). If you don’t see something you like, I am happy to take requests; just send me an email outlining the product you’d like to see and the image you like on it (from either my Flickr, Photobucket or from this blog)
In addition to being the recipient of my undying appreciation, I will blog (here) and tweet (@GeekInQuestion) tips and talks from the workshop, so hopefully we’ll all benefit from my participation.
Thanks for considering this request!