I realised that, unless I was to become a politician or a researcher, my only real contribution could be to build a publishing enterprise based on sound commercial principles, that would ignite in others a passion for the natural world. I chose to target children of all ages. I soon found I was able to create, produce and sell products that celebrated nature and inspired a personal connection with its beauty and fragility. I knew that my young audience, having made a connection, would grow up believing in the magic of nature. When environmental issues arose, these children, now adults, would lend their voices to make the collective environmental consciousness stronger. This is my drive and has been my reason for being for the last half a century.
My dream is that this generation can stand up and make a difference and champion nature. In 1992, I decided that to win the war I needed to focus more on the kids. After all, the adults didn’t seem to be listening. The kids are the frontline for the environment now. So today, my work and my company’s work is very much focussed on encouraging young people to love nature, to live within the natural world, to question and search and discover, and most importantly, to follow their dreams and live their passion. Kids today are very aware. They do care about what is happening to their inheritance, but we all still have so much to learn about Australian wildlife. The war on wildlife is still far from over.
It truly was astonishing, the depth and breadth of this land. I really felt a calling to show it to others; to ensure that we not only appreciated what we have down here, down under, but that we were willing to protect it, too. At the time I started Steve Parish Publishing, environmental issues were only just coming to the fore. People were beginning to question what we were doing to nature. I still feel that nature is under attack and it is enormously frustrating that we continue to march hell-bent on destroying what we love and what is necessary for us – both spiritually and materially – as it is for all life forms.
Educating others was my primary objective in starting the company. It wasn't just about taking spectacular images, although that is extremely rewarding, too. It was about promoting an understanding for the importance of nature. The first step has to be to light a fire in someone – inspire them to learn more, inspire them to genuinely become one with nature, urge them to connect with it and to celebrate its beauty and diversity. Then let's talk about saving it.
celebrate, inspire, connect
As a naturalist, photographer, publisher and promoter of Australia and its natural history, I have immersed myself in the natural world for the past five decades… However, on my journey, at both a business and personal level, I wrestled with what my contribution should be to the protection of the plants, animals and habitats I was photographing. After all I knew well that human help was required to conserve these places and their wild inhabitants.
I am motivated by a passion for nature. Acknowledging the loss of many of our unique wild places and creatures, it has become my objective as a photographer and publisher to inspire others to champion their protection. I believe we inherited a world in balance and we should be ever vigilant in maintaining that balance.
My theory is that if we don’t connect to nature, mentally, physically or spiritually, we’re lost. Teaching children to photograph an animal is to understand its behaviour, its habitat and why that habitat must be preserved. In a nation of city dwellers with an ever expanding migrant population, it’s crucial to plug people in, give them respect and connection to their natural environment.