Storytelling Through the Lens Photography for Sustainability students showcase their work

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Over five billion photographs are taken each day — to capture moments, memories, tell stories, share news and more. 

On Dec. 1, 2022, students showcased their photography in the Environment, Resources, and Sustainability (ERS) 318 Photography for Sustainability Open House held in EV2. 

The open house featured 132 photographs reflecting various sustainability themes, including food waste, energy consumption, affordable housing, sustainable materials, student sustainability, e-waste, restoration, greenwashing, sustainable education, eco-consumerism, and humanity’s overall relationship with nature. 

“The class gave me a space to explore the topic of sustainability and accessibility, that is very important to me.” said student Care Rumer. “My work showcases the importance of creating accessible natural spaces for both environmental and social sustainability.” 

Rumer’s exhibit, titled “The Beauty of Accessible Nature,” focuses on the intersection of social justice and sustainability. 

Photography has long been used as a tool to create awareness and social change. By offering the viewers an opportunity to connect with a subject — whether it’s a person, landscape, or an animal — photography reinforces why the audience should care and take action. ERS 318 is a course where UWaterloo students can share topics they are passionate about and engage with the wider community in sustainability focused discussions. 

Professor Rob de Loë, a lifelong photographer himself, began offering the Photography for Sustainability course in 2016. Each year the course has brought together students from all faculties to share their photography and storytelling. 

In ERS 318 students learn skills like curation, printing, and how to create their display. There is also a focus on the directness of each student’s message. Before the final displays are created there are multiple peer critique sessions to help fine tune their work. Students’ exhibits are composed of six photographs, 50 words per caption and a 200-word statement. Working within these parameters students create concise stories for their audience. 

With the magnitude of photos being posted online, the photos in the ERS 318 exhibit are only showcased in person. The Photography for Sustainability exhibit will be on display in EV2 until next December for the UW community to see.