Photojournalist Captures Relationship Between People And Nature

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As a photojournalist working on assignment for the National Network of Forest Practitioners, it's Josh Birnbaum's job to see the forest AND the trees — to see the big picture and the personal story. And to share his vision with others.

Birnbaum is a graduate of Ohio University who now lives in Athens, which is where the Forest Practitioners organization is located.

Back in June, the national group picked Birnbaum as the International Year of Forests Photography Fellow.  "I was chosen to travel around the country and photograph various issues related to forestry and to highlight these issues that are important to the forest and our existence as humans," he says.      

The fellowship resulted in what Birnbaum calls a "photographic forest escapade" — a seven-week journey to seven states to find, "the elusive soul of the American forest."


"We really want people to understand how they rely on the forest for their existence – water quality, air quality, wood, different products. We have this great resource out there that we need to protect and then also use sustainably."

The trip enabled Birnbaum to tell a visual story of the relationship of people and nature.

The trip included stops in West Virginia, where Birnbaum met with researchers trying to find a solution to the disease which has killed off so many American chestnut trees.

At his last stop in Maryland, Birnbaum focused on the ways forests sustain public health, including water quality and watershed management.

Birnbaum has produced a photo show that is getting more than a little attention.

It's been featured as a photo blog in the Huffington Post and commissioned as an exhibit at the Society for Economic Botany national conference.