When you think about the environment, do you picture your own backyard, or do your thoughts drift to exotic locations — maybe lush rainforests or remote mountain ranges? For many of us, our lives are becoming more urban, so we’re looking to out-of-the-way places to help us rebuild our connection with nature.
According to a recent Adobe Digital Insights report on travel trends, U.S. travelers’ top eco-destinations are far-flung, from Costa Rica to Iceland and the Galapagos Islands, while Europeans are heading to Iceland, Norway, and Kenya.
As we wrap up a month of reflecting on our relationship with the world, and what we can do to protect serve it, we took a closer look at this out-of-the-way travel trend and followed a group of young professional photographers to the remote but beautiful land of Tahiti.
Millennials pack light, venture far, and capture it on camera.
In travel, like in so many things, millennials are leading a sea change. According to Sarah Clark, the global GM at TopDeck Travel, millennials are 23 percent more likely to travel abroad than older generations. And as they head further afield, they put their money where their hearts are.
Seventy-two percent of Millennials spend more of their budgets on experiences than on material goods. What do they want to experience on their journeys? A recent Forbes report shows that millennials’ top motivations for traveling are to discover new cultures (86 percent) and eat local foods (69 percent).
And, just as you’d expect, when millennials travel, they bring cameras along for the ride. According to Forbes, 98 percent of young travelers take photos on their trips. When they’re on the road, their most-used apps are the ones that make it easy to share photos far and wide: Facebook and Instagram.
Photographers trek to Tahiti for photos and return with a mission.
Adobe Stock recently teamed up with Tiny Atlas Quarterly, a travel and lifestyle magazine, to send a group of young professional photographers on a once-in-a-lifetime, fully immersive photo shoot in Tahiti. They stayed with Tahitian families, ate local food, surfed, and captured it all with a camera.
On the trip, the photographers discovered more than creative inspiration — their time in a remote and fragile place brought home the urgency of conservation. Figuring out how to send an environmental message through photography became a shared concern.
“In photography, there’s always a storytelling element,” adds Emily Nathan, photographer and founder of Tiny Atlas. “People listen to a good photo — the better the photo, the more people will listen. And if you win people’s attention in a place like social media by showing them something they want to see, you can even add a long paragraph. They’ll actually read it.”
“There are several schools of thought on how you share an environmental message through photos, but I think you show rather than tell,” says Laura Rubin, founder of AllSwell Creative and one of the trip’s organizers. “If you can educate people and empower them, that’s the sweet spot. Global warming on a large scale is extremely overwhelming to consider, but if we’re talking about the cultural and environmental ramifications on one particular atoll or region, that breaks it down to a level that’s relatable.”
For Tasha Van Zandt, one of the photographers on the trip, immersing herself in the culture and landscape of remote places is the key to finding stories she wants to tell with her work: “I travel in order to experience other ways of life and to interact with others in a meaningful way. I believe that this fosters more compassion and empathy for others, and allows us to feel more connected to each other and the earth.”
Travel global, then think environmental.
It’s clear that millennials are traveling farther from home, and bringing their cameras along. So, as we consider Earth Day, we realize that the flood of amazing travel shots from so many journeys aren’t just about getting likes and shares. For many photographers, they’re about making our planet a better place.
You can check out the full collection of jaw-dropping photos from the Tahiti trip here.