Environmental Photography



Course Number




Course Description

This class aims to use photography as a tool to advance our understanding of the environment, including natural systems, human interaction with the environment, environmental justice, and intersectional environmentalism. While we will pay attention to photographic skills and learn about the technical aspects of photography, the main objective of this course is to study the environment from a variety of perspectives. We will do this through individual and group photography assignments and original small group scientific research projects. Weekly photo shoots will focus on topics such as technical camera skills, an environmental photo essay, animal behavior, nature in winter, and exploring a taxonomic group (for example, mosses or birds). The course culminates with small groups using photography to conduct a scientific study. Examples might include conducting a photographic survey of tree species on Sehome Hill, comparing historical vs. modern photographs to study environmental change over time, photography to analyze the distribution of tree species near rivers, and using photographs or video to study aggression in gulls at the beach.

Note: For this course students will need to access a camera that allows them to control aperature and exposure (in other words – not a phone camera or a point and shoot camera), ideally an SLR style camera – these can be borrowed from Classroom Services at WWU.



Materials Fee


Required Texts

Nat Coalson: Nature Photography Photo Workshop and other readings assigned via Canvas.

Please note: The book for this course is nearly out of print, but can be obtained used for cheap online. The WWU bookstore may have a few of them but because it is nearly out of print the bookstore may not be a reliable source. You must buy the book before the course starts.


S/NX grading; narrative evaluations

Regular attendance in class and on field trips, completion of two drafts of a scientific paper based on a group original scientific field project, written responses to reading, weekly photo shoots, and a portfolio of photographs turned in at the end of the course.


Fall 2023

Course Instructor(s)

John Bower

Course Subject