February 22nd, 2018 by Brendan Wiltse

What is Patreon?

The overarching goal of my work as a photographer is to connect people to the natural world, and engage them with issues related to its conservation. Those connections are fundamental to people caring about nature, and their willingness to take action to conserve it. In an ever increasing digital and urban world, full of stress and distractions, it can be challenging for people to maintain connections with the wild places they love. These new forms of communication may be isolating people from nature, but they also offer an opportunity to remind people of the beautiful world we live in, and the role they play in being good stewards of our planet. 

I hope my work as a photographer helps maintain those connections for people, and challenges them to consider the actions they can take to protect the places they love.

St. Regis River

The Power of Social Media

Social media often gets a bad rap, but it has the potential to do so much good. Consider the following numbers. In 2017, my photographs, and messages about conservation, were viewed 2,730,220 times on Facebook alone. That is 2,730,220 reminders of how beautiful the natural world is and why it is worth protecting. When I consider these numbers I am blown away. I frequently find myself sitting dumbfounded by the fact that so many people have viewed my images, or that over 15,000 people care enough about my work to follow me on social media. As those numbers grow my sense of responsibility to this audience grows. If I go a day or two without posting an image I start to feel as though I am letting all of those people down. But more importantly, I feel I am failing to achieve my goal of a photographer; to keep people connected and engaged with nature.

It's Not About The Money

I didn't get into photography with the hope of getting rich. If I wanted, I could switch my focus to more lucrative forms of photography, for instance shooting weddings or portraits. That switch would mean diluting my effort to use photography as a tool for conservation, something I am not willing to do. This isn't to say I don't make income as a conservation photographer. I do sell prints and rights to my images to be used in magazines. The irony is, others are making much more money off my images online. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all serve ads along side those 2,730,200+ views to make money. Unlike YouTube, these social platforms don't share ad revenue with the creators producing content on their platforms. In fact, there isn't a social media platform that allows creators of still images to monetize their content.

Money is a factor though. I spend over 1,500 hours and drive thousands of miles each year to produce photographs. I also have expenses related to insurance, equipment, computers, internet, etc. All of this is what it costs to produce conservation related photography and messages capable of reaching millions of people. I do all of this because I believe I can make an impact and its what I enjoy doing.

Lapland Rosebay

Focusing On Specific Projects

Over the past several years I have started focusing more on developing photographs for specific projects or causes. The NY Alpine Project highlighted the rare and fragile alpine plants found on New York's tallest mountains. The images were published in Adirondack Life as a cover story, appeared in the Adirondack Explorer, Adirondac, and other publications. They are also used by the Summit Steward program to promote their message and work.

Recently, I shot aerial and ground images highlighting railcar storage in the Adirondack Park. These images helped raise public awareness of the storage of junk railcars on public lands. They also helped lead to a decision by Warren Buffet to pull cars he owned out of the Adirondacks. Other car owners may move in, making this an ongoing threat. I will continue to work with groups like the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club to share this story.

As I plan my work for 2018, I am looking for more projects to support local conservation efforts. High quality images can be powerful tools in telling a story, but many non-profits work on limited budgets and need to be responsive to emerging threats.

Support This Work Through Patreon

If you believe that photography and social media are powerful tools to connect people to the natural world, and value the time and effort put in to producing images and sharing messages of conservation online, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Patreon is a platform for supporting creators. Individuals that value my work can make a monthly pledge to support what I do. In return, you know that you are helping me continue to reach millions of views with messages about conserving the natural world, but you also get great perks. Depending on your level of support you will get exclusive content, discounts, a free book, a free print, personal or commercial digital rights to the work I post on Patreon, and the occasional surprise. 

All of the support I receive on Patreon will be used to further my goal of using photography to connect people to the natural world. Patreon provides me with the flexibility to take on new projects, continue to grow my reach on social media, amplify the message of local conservation groups, and gives my supporters the ability to direct my work and make it more meaningful. Whether you support my on Patreon or not, I will continue what I am doing, and you can continue enjoying my work online. As my support on Patreon grows, I can focus on producing more and new content, as well as taking on big project that can have an even more meaningful impact on the conservation of the places we love.

Thank you for you support, whether you make a pledge on Patreon or not.


  • No Comments
Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In