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Photographer Kristi Odom Talks Earth Day, Ethical Wildlife Photography and the iLCP

Wildlife photographer Kristi Odom travels the world shooting, teaching, and sharing her insights so she can help make the planet a better, more loving place.

The visual artist, WPPI speaker, and Nikon ambassador have over 60 international photography awards — including two Nature’s Best Photography awards — and her work has been exhibited twice at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. In honor of Earth Day, we sat down with this proud member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) to have a chat about what makes Kristi Odom tick and what influences her photography.

Photographer Kristi Odom.
Kristi Odom at work.
Photographer Kristi Odom wildlife photographs to help the planet be more aware.
© Kristi Odom Photography

Range finder: Why wildlife photography?
Kristi Odom: I am a wildlife photographer because of my passion for this planet and all the animals that we share it with. I don’t want my photography to impact wildlife in a negative way. Being a part of an organization like the International League of Conservation Photographers, which teaches and encourages ethical wildlife photography, is important to my core values.

I am constantly inspired by the other fellows who are making real change in the fight against global warming and habitat loss. It drives me to use my photography to tell more stories about the wildlife that will positively impact our planet.

RF: How does your work get people to be more aware and do their part?
KO: My images celebrate wildlife and how environmental changes affect their well-being. My recent focus has been on alpine wildlife that feels the effects of warming temperatures. I also love using photography to highlight community scientists and encourage people to realize that everyone can make a difference.

[Read: Leave No Trace: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Photography in the Great Outdoors]

RF: How do you celebrate Earth Day? What does the day mean to you?
KO: Earth Day is a reminder to pay more attention to our planet and that it is our responsibility to take care of it. I believe that we are a part of the planet and the mindset needs to change that our planet is our commodity for consumption.

RF: Who are some conservation photographers whose work you admire?
KO: One of my biggest inspirations is another one of the iLCP fellows and on the Nikon Ambassador team with me, Brian Skerry.

I am so moved by everything he has done for our oceans Skerry’s work includes a wide range of stories, from the harp seal’s struggle to survive in frozen waters to the alarming decrease in the world’s fisheries, to dolphin intelligence, etc.

In fact, his Emmy award-winning series, The Secrets of the Whales, is premiering on the Nat Geo channel today! It is also on Disney plus. A definite watch!

"The Secret of Whales" promo by National Geographic.
Photographer Kristi Odom Talks Earth Day, Ethical Wildlife Photography and the iLCP 16

I am also inspired by my good friend Brooke McDonough, who has worked with me on a project on insects that was published online for National Geographic. Her passion for bees and insects has helped inspire my own stories about local conservation. She has helped teach me the power of local storytelling and how much change we can make in our own local spaces.

Image of bee on flower, by Brooke McDonough.
Photo © Brooke McDonough

RF: Any last thoughts you want to share?
KO: Yes! Today, the International League of Conservation Photographers is offering a print sale for the planet, in keeping with its theme for Earth Day 2022: Invest in Our Planet. The prints are from iLCP’s free, virtual exhibition, Worry to Wonder: A Climate Story, and was put together by iLCP with contributions from myself and other photographers all over the world. By purchasing images, you are directly investing in the work of our talented fellowship of professional photographers and filmmakers who have made it our life’s work to protect and preserve our planet.

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