EPA Earth Day Project: Snap, Shoot, Submit

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A photo enthusiast snaps a picture as a young boy enjoys a refreshing splash at the Singapore Zoo. The photographer titles the piece, “It’s Our Beautiful World.”

As part of its Earth Day activities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking such original photos and videos from the public for its annual Earth Day Photo and Video Project. Men and women from around the world are submitting funny, intriguing and spectacularly gorgeous images.

This untitled photo submitted by Julie Larsen Maher was a 2008 winner for the "Protecting the Environment" category. Photo: EPA.gov

This untitled photo submitted by Julie Larsen Maher was a 2008 winner for the "Protecting the Environment" category. Photo: EPA.gov

Grab your gear

If you like working behind the lens to educate or inspire others about the environment, this may be a project for you. Submissions are accepted through April 30, and no fees are involved.

A selection of photos and videos are going to be displayed on the EPA’s Earth Day site. All submissions, even those not selected for the EPA site, are accessible for public enjoyment and are available through Flickr and YouTube.

The EPA encourages putting a personal connection into the photo submissions. This can include re-touching the photo (black and white or partially desaturated), editing the photo to include borders or combining two photos to make a composite. The standards apply to prohibited photos: copyright, no nudity, drugs or acts of hatred.

Do your own thing

While some broad environmental themes are outlined, the project offers plenty of leeway for personalizing the subject matter and tone of each piece. According to the EPA, the event is intended to be fun, inspiring and a venue for sharing.

The 2008 winner for Nature and Wildlife, photographer Alex Saberi titled his work "Realm of the Deer." Photo: EPA.gov

The 2008 winner for Nature and Wildlife, photographer Alex Saberi titled his work "Realm of the Deer." Photo: EPA.gov

Some participants may focus on projects related to protecting the environment. Others want to highlight nature’s beauty.

“It’s another way of engaging people in Earth Day,’’ says EPA Program Analyst Jeff Morin. “Think about what moves you. And what moves you may move other people.”

No prizes are offered because the event is not a contest. Rather than focus on judging, the EPA staffers say they prefer to direct their efforts on displaying entries.

Russ Roca, a freelance photographer, and is among the current stand-out submissions for the People and the Environment category. Roca’s photo was taken on a recent bike vacation with his girlfriend to San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles. The photo features a happy woman in a bicycle helmet looking at wild flowers along a roadside. Russ says his goal is to bring awareness to eco-traveling by promoting bicycling as fun and environmentally friendly way to travel.

“I hope that my photo helps people rediscover the joys and wonders of the bicycle,” Russ says. “Too often the bike is seen either as a toy for children or the toy of elite spandex clad racers.”

The Guidelines

The EPA allows citizens of all countries to participate in the event. You must be at least 18-years-old. The project runs through Flickr in order to provide maximum public access. Another benefit of Flickr is that you are able to monitor the comments your photo receives.

The EPA asks that you share where the photo was taken and a description that provides a clear understanding of the content. Participants should load their photos according to the event’s designated categories. The EPA’s site has direct links to each of the groups.

Nicolas Chan's "The Jumper" was a 2008 finalist in the "Nature and Wildlife" category. Photo: EPA.gov

Nicolas Chan's "The Jumper" was a 2008 finalist in the "Nature and Wildlife" category. Photo: EPA.gov

Photo Categories:

Video Categories:

Participants submit entries to EPA’s Earth Day Video Project group on YouTube. The videos should be 90 seconds or less. Children age 13 and younger may need to access YouTube through a parent, teacher or other responsible adult.

Note that once you submit your photo or video, it becomes EPA’s property and may be used for non-profit and governmental purposes.

Enjoy a peek

Even if you don’t send in any of your own submissions, you might enjoy browsing among the assortment of entries, which so far include images from the U.S., Singapore, India, Africa and Japan. Last year’s event attracted 750 submissions. The winning pictures included a misty, backlit scene of deer roaming in a London park and a close-up photo of a zoo staffer holding a toad.

According to EPA staff member Jeff Morin, other noteworthy submissions included a grinning girl, her face crusted in soot, and a baby playing in a mud puddle.

You can view current submissions on YouTube. One stand-out video for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle category features Erica Biery, a recycled glass artist. In the video, Biery explains how she makes cheese boards with recycled wine bottles. The video was posted by Close the Loop, a company that assists small businesses like Erica’s and create high quality recycled products.

“We generate 13 million tons of waste glass annually in the U.S.,” says Close the Loop’s Founder and President Rita Lacey. “The bottle makers generally want color separated glass cullet to make new bottles, leaving literally mountains of commingled colored bottles with little outlet in the marketplace.”

Another video in the Protecting the Environment category features Baltimore Girl Scout Troop 2077’s president explaining the launch of the troop’s Green Promises channel. The troop is dedicated to environmental responsibility and encourages viewers to make their own promise to bettering the earth.

A highlight in the Reduce Your Carbon Footprint category is a submission by metroopensdoors entitled, “Dump the Pump.” The video is a representation of your own carbon footprint, highlighting the green benefits of using public transportation.

Patti Roth contributed to this article.

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