Episode 13 – Interview with Wildlife photojournalist Doug Gimesy

Doug is a professional conservation and wildlife photojournalist who focuses on Australian issues. A Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), his clients include National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, bioGraphic, Australian Geographic, Audubon, as well various mastheads like The Guardian and NewsCorp. Initially trained as a zoologist and microbiologist, he later completed a Masters of Environment and a Masters of Bioethics. Together, these two qualifications helped shape his thinking as what type of issues he should be focusing on and why – conservation and animal welfare issues.

Believing people should focus on the issues they care about and those that are close to home, his recent work has focused on the conservation and animal welfare issues facing the platypus and the Grey-headed Flying-fox – having recently facilitated the platypus being listed as threatened species in his home state of Victoria, as well as launching a children’s book with his partner on Grey-headed Flying-foxes titled ‘Life Upside Down’. Current on-going projects include covering the illegal reptile trade out of Australia, the use of scent dogs in conservation and a series of portraits called ‘Wildlife Warriors, Conservation Champions and Animal Advocates’.

Doug hopes that the images and information he shares will inspire people to stop, think, and treat the world more kindly.

You can follow Doug and learn more about his work here:

Some of Doug’s recent awards:

  • Winner Wildscreen Panda Photo Story Awards 2018
  • Winner Aus Geo Nature Photographer of the Year 2015 (Monochrome), 2016 (Our impact), 2021(Our impact and Animal portrait)
  • Finalist Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016, 2020, 2021
  • Finalist Aus Geo Nature Photographer of the Year 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • Finalist BigPicture Natural World Photography 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020
  • Finalist National Photographic Portrait Prize 2018

And his recent publications include:


Jen (00:00:01)
Welcome to Let’s Talk SciComm, a podcast by the University of Melbourne Science Communication Teaching Team. I’m Dr Jen Martin and my co-host is Dr Michael Wheeler and we believe science isn’t finished until it’s communicated.

Jen (00:00:40)
Hello and welcome to another episode of Let’s Talk SciComm. I’m Jen Martin and I’m so delighted that you’ve joined us.
And as always, here I am with my wonderful co-host Dr Michael Wheeler. Hello Michael.

Michael (00:00:54)
Hey Jen, I’m very excited for today’s episode.

Jen (00:01:02)
So am I. Because today, I’m going to introduce you to a friend and colleague of mine. I honestly can’t remember when and where we first met, he probably does. But I’m delighted to introduce to our listeners Doug Gimesy.
And there are many ways that I can introduce Doug. My favourite way Doug is to point out that like me, your first degree was in zoology, but you decided that you’d have more impact in the world doing other things. Is that fair to say Doug?

Doug (00:01:29)
I needed money initially. So I stepped out, I stepped out of science, is that an awful thing to admit?

Jen (00:01:35)

Michael (00:01:35)
Fair enough.

Doug (00:01:37)
I eventually came back into communication and science comms and conservation comms.

Jen (00:01:41)
Yes, you did, which we are most looking forward to speaking with you about.
But I do have to point out that another way to introduce you is to go into a very long list of your degrees. So there’s a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology and Microbiology. Then there was a Graduate Certificate in Health Economics. I’m pretty sure there was a Diploma of Education in there. A Graduate Diploma of Bioethics, a Master of Bioethics, and a Master of Environment on Governance, Policy, and Communications.
Doug, are you 150 or what?

Doug (00:02:15)
Many midlife crises, and I like to have an informed opinion. I, I decided early on and I thought the best way to do it was to enrol in degrees and courses that interested me. So the last two were very much to have a bit more of an informed opinion.

Michael (00:02:31)
Great, are you finished with degrees yet? You got more planned?

Doug (00:02:35)
No I, I think the current fees that they charge for them… I’m out.
I did a lot of mine when they were free, so I was pretty lucky.

Jen (00:02:43)
Well, we’re, we’re looking forward to hearing your informed opinion. I can also point out that you worked for many years in healthcare marketing, and I have a bit of a suspicion that your experience in that area has played a role in your expertise as a communicator.
But I guess the point where we really, want to really discover and explore with you today Doug… As you’re going to hear, Doug is a multi award-winning conservation and wildlife photojournalist. And I mean multi award-winning, it’d be really boring if I listed off all the awards that he’s won. But congratulations, Doug, we’re really proud of your work.

Doug (00:03:22)
Thank you.

Jen (00:03:23)
And Doug’s incredible images have been published by National Geographic, Australian Geographic, BBC, Wildlife, all over the place. Chances are you’ve seen some of his really striking and thought-provoking images. And so we’re really interested to hear about the power of images in science communication today, Doug.
But we do have to start at the beginning. So welcome again and we want to hear first, is there a moment that you can remember or an experience you can recall that really cemented in your mind that science was something that you wanted to pursue?

Doug (00:03:59)
I think I was always interested in science and my big push I guess, to be a conservationist and a wildlife person was David Attenborough’s Life on Earth series. I was doing Year 11, Year 12 at the time and at that stage I thought I want to be him. I want to do that and that was a, a high dream. But also at the same time, I thought I want to be a National Geographic photographer as well.
And I, I picked up the camera at Year 11, Year 12 and then did a zoology degree because I thought that would be a, a smart thing to do, again to have an informed opinion and an understanding of what I was, was photographing. And I, I tried to be a Nat Geo photographer for a couple of years but that was in the early 80s and I just wasn’t good enough at the time. And it was also expensive, that was in the time of film. So to teach yourself and to learn when you know, it was about a dollar a shot and that’s really quite expensive. So I did a few years as a graduate research associate at Melbourne University in the Zoology department and the Botany department and then did a Diploma of Education ’cause I thought I can’t get a job as a, a scientist, I don’t have a PhD.
And then eventually moved across into pharmaceutical sales, which I guess was the first time I was really using science as a communication tool to influence health care professionals, to be candid, to use the products that I was selling. And through that I, I moved on to be a director of a, a multinational and that’s where science communication really came in. Because pharmaceutical sales people are experts in science communication. ‘Cause you’re dealing with highly educated scientists, doctors, professors, other health care professionals. That’s, that’s where I was really honing my science comms skills I think.
And, and with that one of the key things was how to frame information as well, how to present it in a way. And it’s all about being honest, of course, but it’s framing it in a way that people will look at and go okay, that resonates with me. And that was [what] took me up until the early 2000s.

Jen (00:05:58)
Tell us more about what you mean by how you frame information.

Doug (00:06:02)
The world is cluttered with lots of information and to make sense of it all, we build these mental filters. These filters help us simplify complex issues. And by placing greater weight on some considerations and less weight on others, and so people can respond to identical data very, very differently. If I give an example in healthcare; if I said to someone like here’s a drug and you have a 5% chance of a nasty side effect, you’ll respond very differently to if I said you’ve got a one in 20 chance of a nasty side effect, although we know that that data is exactly the same. And so, by framing it in a different way, people respond differently.
We see that if we talk about climate change, which is a nice one. When we talk about the impacts of climate change in 2050, which we’ll say is 30 years, we go well, that’s 30 years. If I say well, that’s less than about 11, 12 thousand days, that’s a very different frame. Because we respond to days very differently to years; days we view as much closer. You know, 10 year’s time is 3650 days. You know the 2030 targets, 10 years seems a lot, 3600 days is not really that many. So we respond to the same information presented and framed differently, and that’s something I learned very early on in pharmaceutical marketing.

Jen (00:07:25)
I think I’m gonna freak out now that you’ve told me how many days we have until 2050.

Doug (00:07:26)
Yeah, well, I haven’t done the exact maths, it was under about 12,000. It’s less than 12,000 days before it all starts hitting, and that’s not much. But 30 years seems like a lot. So I mean, you freaking out is a perfect example of framing the same information. And so as we’re being honest and genuine, but framing in a way that it will, will resonate is something that is a big bugbear of mine, and I hope all the scientists listening…
You know, we talk, people talk about habitat loss, and that’s just the most absurd framing in history. ‘Cause you know, you don’t lose the Great Barrier Reef. I can tell you where it is; give me a map, give me a compass. We don’t lose species. It’s not like I’ve lost my car keys and I go, oops. And, and with that, it’s not morally neutral. Losing something you can go oops, it was an accident. If you lent me your camera and I said I lost it, you’d be upset, but you wouldn’t hold me morally culpable. If I said look, I’ve destroyed it, suddenly it changes and so for me framing habitat losses, habitat destruction changes how we view it. The framing is really important.

Jen (00:08:23)
Yeah, because then we realise that somebody is doing it.

Doug (00:08:25)
Or somebody’s not doing something they should or… and so there’s a, there’s a moral responsibility. So framing is really, really powerful. It’s a bit like collateral damage in a war. Really? You know, oops collateral? I mean I, I think how we frame things is important.
So pharmaceuticals and marketing, that took me to the early 2000s, and then I had one of my many midlife crises and, and the Masters of Bioethics. And then around the same time I decided to pick up the camera again and just see if I was any good at it, and went to Antarctica on a holiday and had a few photos published by National Geographic and thought maybe I’ll, I’ll shift across there. And I think the other thing was that I also realised that generally images are more powerful than words as well. And there’s, there’s a lot of reasons, but I had these multiple epiphanies during my multiple midlife crises, I, I guess.
But you know, there are things like, you know, we know that images are very fast and easy to process. They are normally seen to speak the truth. Obviously Photoshop has changed that a little bit. They can quickly tell a story. But for me the two great and powerful things about images is that they seem to transcend geographical and linguistic barriers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, it doesn’t matter how literate you are. But most importantly, they can trigger these emotions and these matter, emotions.
And I think that’s the great thing about images and conservation and sciences. Because by triggering these multiple emotions, you can get people to do something, you can get people to act. And to me, conservation and animal welfare is all about behaviour. It’s about getting people to start doing something or stop doing something or do more of something or less of something, or you know, that could even be just hav[ing] a conversation. But images seem to do that. And again, I really like that generally, your level of literacy or what languages speak is irrelevant. I mean when, when someone takes a photo of an atrocity somewhere, of war, issue for example, the person doesn’t have to speak English to take the photo and the person doesn’t have to speak English to understand what they’re seeing.

Michael (00:10:31)
Yeah absolutely, that’s really fascinating Doug. I’d like to ask you a little bit about that first midlife crisis. I’m not sure if it’s your, your first one, but the decision to go and study bioethics. So I’m curious to know what was the motivation behind that decision, and then also, how did studying bioethics shape your current thinking?

Doug (00:10:53)
Sure, so I was [the] associate director looking after infectious diseases at a pharmaceutical company and specialising in HIV/AIDS in the late 1990s, and the company donated 200 million U.S. dollars to five African countries to help out with programs. It wasn’t drugs, it was money and we copped a lot of flak because we’d made 2 billion dollars. And my first response was come on, you know, just giving you 200 million dollars, my shields went up. And then I thought well like I want to understand where they’re coming from and what is an appropriate amount for a pharmaceutical company to donate and give to help out less privileged communities or organisations or groups.
And at that time there was a gentleman finishing his PhD at Monash University on the ethics of pharmaceutical companies.
And so I thought, I’d enrol in a Graduate Diploma in Bioethics and so, I enrolled in a graduate diploma and I was struggling on doing that. And then one of my lecturers was the world- renowned Peter Singer. And Peter was talking about an issue when I put my hand up as a smartass as I would and I challenged him on it and effectively said well, “If you think that’s right, why don’t you write a paper on it?”
And I knew I was never going to write a paper on it unless I enrolled in my masters. So I was baited into enrolling in a master’s degree in part by thesis, to write that paper. And then from that understanding, bioethics, I guess I had the epiphany that a lot of conservation issues are ethical issues as well, and animal welfare issues.
And I think the bushfires showed that. A lot of scientists talk about numbers objectively. But when a forest burns down there is a million, 100 million animals burning to death, suffering from dehydration, from burns. And I think at that stage, that changed me to being not just a conservationist, but I guess an animal welfare person who very much believed and thought that most conservation issues are animal welfare issues.

Jen (00:12:53)
And was that what the masters paper was about Doug?
Was that around animal welfare issues?

Doug (00:12:58)
No, my, my masters paper was on the ethics of the disposal of excess IVF eggs originally.

Jen (00:13:06)
Ooh, ’cause that’s not complicated…

Doug (00:13:08)
Well, the ethics are: are they alive or not? Because they’re frozen. And the challenge I had was if they’re frozen, well, they’re not dead because they can be brought back to life, but by definition they’ve got no metabolic rate, so they’re not alive. So what’s the ethics of disposing of excess IVF eggs and then that took me to what’s the ethics of destroying a human if they’re put in suspended animation? So in 50 years, 100 years time, we can put a human in suspended animation and destroy that body. By definition, it couldn’t be murder because they’re not alive, but there’s something intuitively wrong because you’re taking away a potential.
And so, it headed down there and then it, we’re headed down this awful wormhole of what if we make artificial intelligence that’s sentient? Can we ever turn the computer off? Because there, is there anything different to turning off the computer as there is to destroying a human who’s in suspended animation and that was a couple of years of thinking.

Jen (00:14:04)
Oh my goodness, my head hurts. I’m just trying to get my head around that stuff.

Doug (00:14:10)
I, I came up with a third state of existence, which was called as suspended, which is neither dead nor alive, but has potentiality.
And that potentiality has a moral position I guess, it needs recognition.

Jen (00:14:25)
Do you think you’d be taking different photographs now if you hadn’t spent those years grappling with these big bioethical questions?

Doug (00:14:32)
I think there’s a couple of things. I think I have a, a maturity and confidence that I didn’t have when I was younger. I’m pretty comfortable to, to ask people, to go places and to get in places and so… and my engagement with people is a lot more relaxed than it used to be. So I think the photos I take and the areas I get access to are better, and I think that’s just for me, a maturity thing. Whether I’ve matured or whether I was just incredibly immature when I was 20 or 30… I think most people would tick B, unfortunately. But they’re probably, they’re probably right.
Having been in senior roles in multinationals, I guess that gave me a lot of confidence just to ask people and be quite brazen about it. So I think my age did that, and the other thing is and I joke about this, but you know, how you end up with 100,000 dollars in the bank and be a conservation photographer is quite easy, you start 10 years early with a million.
And that is not literally the case. But having established myself pretty much financially early-ish on in my career it gave me the luxury to go look, this is what I want to do and this is what I want to photograph. And sure, I believe in getting paid and being paid fairly, but that’s not a requirement. For me it’s again, it’s more of an ethical thing, I should be paid for my photos and I should be paid fairly. But I’d go and shoot what I want. A lot of my work I shoot not on assignment, but I decide I’m going to cover this. And then once I’ve covered it, I will then pitch it out. So the bushfires is a good example. I spent a month in the field covering the bushfires and then I pitched the photos to National Geographic and BBC and they, they pick them up, which was great, but it wasn’t that I had to go out there, ’cause it’s really quite stressful.
When you shoot for National Geographic. And I had done assignments, not with them specifically, but published with them. You know, there’s a line that goes around. We pay for photos, not excuses. And that’s a pretty tough job brief so… I don’t like that stress as much. So I figure I’ll go take the photos, pitch them, they might come back and say no good. And, and that’s happened. I showed one of the editors who just awarded me an international award and she was one of the photo editors. And I was in London showing her my next shots. Then she goes “nice, but nothing great”. And another two years I was out shooting and then eventually I got a piece on platypuses in National Geographic. So they’re pretty hard, but that’s why they’re one of the best in the world.

Jen (00:17:00)
And could you see what she saw? What I really want to hear from you is a little bit more about why images are just so important when it comes to communicating about conservation issues and about wildlife, and about science in general.
But could you see what her eyes could see about why they weren’t anything special compared to other stuff that you’ve taken?

Doug (00:17:21)
Not at the time, she was being absurd. But upon reflection, being one of the top National Geographic photo editors, of course. Look, I think. Good wildlife and conservation and animal welfare photography is really just not the technical skills. And a lot of people worry about expensive equipment and the technical side, but a great photo is all about composition and what you’re capturing, and I think I didn’t see that.
I mean, I won some awards and I’ve done some good stuff, but what she was talking about I think on reflection, she was 100% right. But if I took a photo of David Attenborough swimming with a wild shark, that could be grainy and not technically perfect. No one’s gonna really care as much as if it’s a maybe a cover photo. So I think like any communication, it depends on the audience.
Getting caught up in the technicality, it’s more about the story. And one of the top National Geographic photographers, Joel Sartore has this really nice summary of the difference between wildlife photography and conservation photography. And he says that a wildlife photographer will take a photo of a butterfly whereas a conservation photographer will take a photo of a butterfly with a bulldozer in the back.

Michael (00:18:28)
Yeah, so is it the story that’s kind of the main criteria behind choosing a photo for an award, or what other kind of elements come into play when some of these awards are being decided on?

Doug (00:18:41)
Competitions have lots of categories. You know, they’ll have animal portraits, they’ll have animal habitat. My area I really specialise in is the photojournalism, the photo documentary side, so there will be a story. It’ll be a, an animal that’s which I think greater flying foxes that have died or clumping due to heat stress events, but the key is the heat stress events. Or as I might put in a photo of a beautiful grey headed flying fox in mid flight and that’ll be an animal portrait category. So I think it depends on the awards, but my main focus are things like World Press and the more the story telling rather than the beautiful art. So it’s more conservation, photojournalism versus wildlife photography.
So wildlife photographs, if they’re pure wildlife photographs, have to be normally beautiful and emotive or surprising or rare where conservation photo documentaries have to really tell a story. And that can be in one photo or in a narrative of 5 to 10 normally. Most of my photos, virtually all of them no one will buy personally, because you don’t want them hanging on your lounge room wall. Whereas a wildlife photographer may well sell lots of photos because they’re beautiful, of the wildlife.
And it’s interesting a lot of Attenborough’s work has shifted to… he’s now talking about, about issues of population and the challenges of that and, and pollution. Whereas going back 20 years ago it was more just about how wonderful the animals were in their own right. And there’s a shift, and there’s a shift in competitions. Wildlife photographer of the year now are awarding and focusing on conservation issues and climate change issues and animal welfare issues where it used to be a lot of beautifully, incredibly well taken pure wildlife photos.

Jen (00:20:20)
So Doug, I’m interested in what does that mean for people like me? You know, I’ll never be a professional photographer, I’m not even a particularly good photographer, but I do understand the immense power of images because, as you says, it transcends cultural and language boundaries. Images can be so emotive.
You know, what can I take from your skill in terms of how I can harness that power in my science communication, can I just use other people’s images? How do I kind of use that knowledge that images are so important?

Doug (00:20:51)
Alright, first I should say don’t use other people’s images without permission. I’m big into copyright.

Jen (00:20:58)
Of course not, of course not. You know what I mean though?

Doug (00:21:02)
No, no, I know what you meant. Look, I think like anything in life, if you want images that are gonna deeply engage people like if you want anything, get a professional or licence an appropriate image if, if it’s that important. And a lot of the time it’s, it mightn’t be you know, if you’re giving lectures and you need 20 images spread throughout our presentation. Do they have to be BBC quality? No.
But a really nice case example, I had Latrobe University, they’ve done this really great piece of work on the impact of light pollution on sleep with birds in Melbourne. And it was an important piece because all the impacts we have, sound pollution and light pollution seem not to be considered a lot when it comes to wildlife, especially urban wildlife. And to get that out there the paper had been submitted, but they thought we want to try and get the cover of I think was Conservation Biology, so they employed me to try and take a photo of a magpie in Melbourne at sunset underneath the spotlight, a park lighting. So we had this beautiful sunset in the background, a magpie on the ground, so we knew it was getting dark and it was clearly lit up by artificial light.
Now I got that photo, showing that situation, it made the cover and then it got picked up by BBC in their piece and then they started talking about it around the world. And so the, the power of the image was just to get people to start talking about it as well. Next month’s cover of Conservation Biology, I think it is Conservation Biology has a photo I took in Melbourne of a garden that was on the top of a car park. It’s not there anymore, but it’s all to do with using our city landscapes to grow food, and that’s going to start a dialogue as well, so I think it can be a really nice entree to the discussions.

Michael (00:23:51)
Yeah, they’re fantastic examples Doug, and I’d love to hear some more.
But I’m just realising we’re coming towards the end of the podcast, so we must move on to our next segment, which is the fun, rapid fire questions.

Doug (00:23:05)
I’m sweating, I’m sweating.

Michael (00:23:08)
So Doug, are you ready? No pressure.

Jen (00:23:20)
No pressure Doug, no pressure.

Michael (00:23:22)
Well, you see, I’ve recently added in the word fun because I realised rapid fire sounds a bit serious and potentially dangerous.

Doug (00:23:29)
It’s how you framed it.

Michael (00:23:31)
Yeah, It’s how I framed it.
Yeah, So I did a good job framing it?

Doug (00:23:35)
I’ll let you know.

Michael (00:23:37)
Okay, okay Doug, first question.
So if you had to pick an alternative career path to the one you’ve taken, what would it be?

Doug (00:23:58)
Conservation videographer.

Jen (00:23:59)
Oh, come on. I don’t think we can let that through Michael, come on.

Doug (00:24:08)
Oh gee, that is, that is so… I wouldn’t. I… Well OK, it was pharmaceutical marketing for a while, but I think I have found my, my spot and it wouldn’t be anything else.
And if I could live my time again, and I’d won tattslotto, I would do exactly what I’ve done. I believe I have the worst-paid best job in the world.

Jen (00:24:25)
Well, that just makes me happy, Doug. That makes me very happy to know that you’re doing something that’s not only meaningful and wonderful for you, but really meaningful for those of us who get to, to see your images. So I think we’ll let that one pass.

Doug (00:24:39)
I get to do some cool things. I spent three weeks in Antarctica with Tim Flannery.
And you would know Jen, you’ve been to Antarctica.
I’ve been five times for work. I mean, you can’t buy that.

Jen (00:24:48)
Yeah, that’s pretty amazing.
So I wonder if this is going to lead beautifully to our next question and that is what’s your proudest professional moment?

Doug (00:24:57)
Interestingly, it is recently having the platypus listed as endangered in Victoria. I did that submission and it came about because I was taking photos of platypuses and I found out that they were threatened and no one was doing anything to get them listed and therefore get them protected. So that is not photographically my proudest, but it is my… if I could only have done one thing in my life, it was probably that and also chair up the Victorian alliance to get platypus training opera house nets (https://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/opera-house-nets-not-to-be-used-in-public-waters) banned ’cause I’ve loved platypus all my life and my first job as a graduate research assistant in 1984 was working at Melbourne Union of Platypus, in the same department that your Dad was working in Jen.

Jen (00:25:39)
Absolutely, and that’s really important legacy work, so I can absolutely understand why that’s something you’re very proud of. You have every reason to be.

Doug (00:25:46)
But professionally it would be winning the inaugural Wildscreen award (https://www.wildscreen.org/about/news/2018-wildscreen-panda-award-winners-revealed/), which is basically the Academy Awards of conservation videography and photography, ’cause in this, in the same awards that one of Attenborough’s pieces won.
And so to sort of win the same award as his team, you sort of go ooh, that’s a, that’s a good day in the office. One of the judges who gave me that was the same person who said with my platypus photos, “they’re nice, but nothing great, go back and shoot” so uhh…

Michael (00:26:15)
Hmm, there you go.

Doug (00:26:16)
It was…an interesting day.

Michael (00:26:18)
Now, Doug, I suspect we might know the answer to this next question. But I’d just like to get your thoughts on Twitter versus Instagram. Do you have a favourite first of all? And what are your thoughts?

Doug (00:26:30)
Instagram because it’s visual, and you don’t have to read you 10, 20, 140 or now 280 characters. But I think Instagram with a good caption. I think captions are really, really important. It doesn’t have to be a book, but I try and have a good heading that captures people in. It might be flying foxes as raincoats, like some, something I just made that up. But something where people go oh what’s he talking about and then a message. And for me, the message has to be engaging emotions or informative, but at the end also try and drive behaviour as well, but Instagram.
And I’m moving a little bit interestingly. Now I’m moving a little bit more to video clips, and National Geographic are doing that as well. And again, coming back to the videography, it’s interesting how people, especially younger people seem to be, engage more in these 10 to 15 to 20 second video clips.
And the best example I can give is only two weeks ago where the most number of likes I’ve had on an image is 2500. I put up a slow motion video of flying foxes in the rain I took in Melbourne, It’s up to 52,000 views. Yeah, so TikTok I think has driven a short attention span, we need some engagement with video. So I would say to scientists as well, 10 to 15 second videos might get engagement if it’s interesting. I mean just not something boring of course.

Jen (00:27:50)
Ah, but it’s all in the eye of the beholder, isn’t?

Doug (00:27:54)
But the beholder is your audience you’re trying to influence so… When people ask me you know, what I think of my photo, I go look, I’m not your audience, I give you a technical opinion, but you need to ask who you’re trying to influence. And sometimes the person you’re trying to influence might be one person. It could be a policymaker.
You know, for me if I could influence Dan Andrews to dot dot dot. And there’s a lot of dots I could fill in there, that’s more important than influencing 50,000 people who support Greenpeace and ACF ’cause they’re already converted. I don’t want them to do the policy.

Jen (00:28:25)
OK Doug, second last question.
What is your favourite science related movie or book?

Doug (00:28:32)
Contact, Carl Sagan. Love it.

Jen (00:28:35)
There you go, you are not the only person we’ve interviewed who has said that. So there you go.

Doug (00:28:42)
The other one would be Arrival ’cause the videography in that is just incredible.
I forget the name of the director, the same person did the second Blade Runner and just did June. Look at the cinematography. It is… The colour is just beautiful.

Michael (00:28:58)
OK, last question Doug.
What would be your very top tip for effective science communication?

Doug (00:29:06)
Understand what behaviour you want in your audience. What do you want them to do? What do you want them to think? If people go wow, that’s interesting and do nothing, that’s sort of nice. But you know, do you want them to pick up and read the paper? Do you want them to do more research? Do you want them to drive policy? Think who your audience is and what engagement you want them to have.

Jen (00:29:26)
Brilliant advice to end with Doug. I think we could all do with spending more time thinking about that. I get a bit frustrated that the maxim is always just know your audience ’cause it’s more than just knowing them, you got to think a lot about them.

Doug (00:29:37)
What do you want them to do? If someone looks at one of my photos and goes, yeah, we should do something about that. You’ll see on Instagram, I’ll say well great, what are you going to do? You know when someone says someone’s going to do something. Well, if not you, who? And if not now, when? So be really specific in what you want and how you want to do it.

Michael (00:29:55)
Fantastic advice Doug. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. That was brilliant.

Doug (00:30:01)
Thanks for the opportunity to talk all things comms and photography and everything else.

Jen (00:30:08)
And if you have a look at our show notes, we will obviously provide links to Doug’s website and his Instagram account and you’ll be able to see some of his absolutely stunning and often quite confronting images I think Doug, it’s really important to point out it’s not as you say, it’s not just about beautiful things, it’s about recognising what’s going on in the world and the fact that we all need to take action.

Doug (00:30:29)
Absolutely. Pleasure.

Michael (00:30:50)
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