Conservation Photography in Florida’s Everglades

Nature photographers are often required to brave the elements and take calculated but sizable risks (such as wading into a muddy pool where more than one hundred alligators float partially submerged before you) to make amazing landscape and wildlife photographs.

Conservation photographer Mac Stone knows all about swimming with gators to get that perfect shot. He’s dedicated the past five years of his career to photographing Florida’s Everglades, and not just the National Park—he’s been exploring and documenting the entire watershed, which stretches from Lake Okeechobee down to Florida Bay.

Stone recently gave an incredibly inspiring TED Talk about his project and he shared many of his stunning photographs in the process. Watch it here:

Throughout his talk, Stone describes his passion for conservation photography in The Everglades and he explains the inner-workings of wetland ecosystems, but perhaps the most profound insight he shared during his presentation was this: photography not only has the power to inspire empathy, but it can also change people’s perceptions, making it an incredibly valuable tool for promoting nature conservation.

Where animals and ecosystems are misunderstood, photography can bring clarity. Swamps and the creatures that inhabit them are often feared and avoided, an attitude which has lead to mass damming and draining throughout the state to make way for golf courses, subdivisions, and agricultural enterprises.

Why should we care about Florida’s Everglades? Stone’s photographs say it all:

florida everglades mac stone landscape wildlife nature photographer photography

Rather than photographing by boat, Stone captures many of his images while wading.

nature conservation kite hawk bird apple snail swamp grass wetland

One of the Everglades’ most iconic species, the snail kite eats only the apple snail. As water levels plummet, so do the populations of both species.

snake dangerous poisonous tree stump texture reptile swamp forest marsh

Through his work, Stone wants to help people to appreciate the beauty and value of the Everglades, not just the dangers that lurk within its black waters.

alligators crocodiles dangerous mud pit puddle pool crocs gators

Stone waded into a mud pit filled with roughly 120 alligators to take this photograph.

“In the Southeast, there’s an alarming disconnect between the public and the natural areas that allow us to be here in the first place,” said Stone. “So my job, then, is to use photography as a communication tool, to help bridge the gap between the science and the aesthetics, to get people talking, to get them thinking, and to hopefully, ultimately, get them caring.”

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