Emily Stewart; Photographer, conservationist and writer
By Tomos Williams
Emily Stewart supporting British hedgehogs (twitter)
Can you name the birds in the trees? It was her grandparents’ knowledge of the natural world that first inspired Emily Stewart to become involved in wildlife.
As she grew up, she became aware of the issues facing our wild populations and decided to do something about it. “As a child you grow up surrounded by nature and then as you get older you learn how imperilled everything the child in you loved really is.”
She is now the owner of Inspire Wildlife, a website on a mission to bring positive conservation news to the public.
“If we constantly report the negative stories then we stand to isolate thousands of would-be environmentalists and conservationists”
“The real aim [of the website] is to recognise the achievements of many conservationists which often get missed by the mainstream media.”
There are many uplifting stories to be found on the website and Emily writes frequently about the discovery of new species such as wolves and monitor lizards.
A fossa at the Rare Species Conservation Centre in Kent (Emily Stewart)
“We are forever bogged down by these negative stories of Endangered species and climate change that we forget to celebrate the good news.
“To tell the truth [the website] was in part inspired by an article Jeremy Hance wrote for Mongabay a few years ago claiming that if we constantly report the negative stories then we stand to isolate thousands of would-be environmentalists and conservationists.”
“By featuring easily accessible ways to get involved we are hopefully inspiring more people to actually take action.”
Emily has recently launched a review service on Inspire Wildlife which brings reviews of nature books and documentaries to make it more accessible for people to connect with nature – “I feel like it’s this horrible irony that we have so many dedicated nature websites yet we are still losing touch with the natural world around us.”
Emily shares news about her website on twitter but also uses the sight to show off her photography skills.
I asked her how she came about being a photographer –
“This happened by pure chance. I started playing with a friend’s camera taking photos of the bees in the garden one summer, and it all just went from there.
“I think I mostly started taking photos of wildlife because I had such a plentiful supply of sparrows and bees to practice taking pictures of.
“I still love to take photographs of bees and flowers, I’m not the most patient person but there’s something quite relaxing about sitting and waiting for a bee to land in the perfect spot for you. There is also so much variety and colour.
A hover fly enjoys itself on some flowers (Emily Stewart)
What is the photo you take most pride in?
“The one I have used for my Inspire Wildlife website. It was pure luck that I had the camera set perfectly and that the monkey stayed still just long enough for me to capture him looming out of the darkness. I just love how expressive the face is, it’s so full of character.”
Emily’s favourite photo (Emily Stewart)
“I think photography is powerful, not just wildlife but all photography. Images can be manipulated to tell a story and it is up to us to decide what story today’s wildlife photos will tell tomorrow. Looking back at old black and white images of long-lost species makes me question whether the plethora of images we now have of all these endangered species will serve as a greater record of their extinction or if the increased amount of images will serve to inspire people to take action. I really hope it is the latter.”
Thanks to Emily for taking the time to speak to us. Inspire Wildlife is a fantastic, positive outlet for wildlife news and should be celebrated.