Garbage, the vocabulary of change, and a photographers responsibility

It is our responsibility as photographers to create imagery that can move society in positive directions. This image is designed to help bring about awareness of sustainability, recycling and environmental responsibility.Garbage Images…that move society
I have just finished creating a series of images that I am very proud of, pictures that leave me feeling like I have contributed to more than just my income. These are garbage images…that is, dramatically illustrated photos of garbage, trash, rubbish and junk. One is a waterless tidal wave of trash while another is an ocean wave filled with garbage, the flotsam and jetsam of a consumer society, and yet another is a steep mountain of waste. Of course, I still want these images to sell and to earn money for me, but I am also hopeful they can help move our society in a positive direction, towards sustainability, recycling and environmental responsibility.

Photography And The Vocabulary of Change

I once heard creative consultant Deanne Delbridge say that it is the responsibility of photographers to lead society in positive directions with their imagery (it has been a long time since I heard that…and so I paraphrase). While her exact words did not stick with me, the importance of what she said has. I do believe that our photography, whether it is journalistic or advertising, leads societies in new directions. Photography is an important part of the vocabulary of change.

Equality, Solutions and Collective Impact

Images that portray equality, whether of gender or race help move us towards that equality. Photographs that dramatize the dangers of pollution move us closer to solutions. Pictures that inspire us to become better individuals can have a huge collective impact.

The Importance of Contribution

But whether the impact from such photography is large or small, it is most certainly there. Creating photography that inspires change and growth in the world are important not just for society but are also important for our own well being as humans. The older I get the more important I realize contribution is. How lucky are we to be able to follow our passion as photographers and to be agents for positive change at the same time?

John Lund  has been shooting professionally for over 30 years.  John was an early adopter of Photoshop, first using version 1.0 in 1990.  He began using digital capture in 1994.  John has been active in the stock photography world as a founding member of BLEND IMAGES, and long time contributor to Getty Images, Corbis, and, more recently SuperStock.

John has lectured on digital imaging and stock photography, has been a columnist for PICTURE and DIGITAL IMAGING magazines, and written ADOBE MASTER CLASS, PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING WITH JOHN LUND.  John has been a frequent speaker at Photo Plus and other venues and has taught workshops at Palm Beach Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops.  His work can be seen at

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

3 thoughts on “Garbage, the vocabulary of change, and a photographers responsibility

Comments are closed.