"We Are Nature"

Exploring Nature Conceptualizations and Connections through Children's Photography


  • Mark Shakespear
  • Jeji Varghese
  • Rosanne Morris


photography, children's perspectives, nature connection, elementary students, children's conceptualization of nature


In an increasingly technological age, photography provides a medium for exploring and engaging with nature. This study examines children’s conceptualizations and avenues of engagement using children’s nature photographs and comments as documented through the school-based Focus on Nature program in Ontario, Canada. We find that children can view nature literally (i.e., as consisting of living, non-living, dead, or human-made things), symbolically (i.e., representing other things or prior experiences), and as a dynamic and static entity. Avenues of connection to nature through photography extend the cognitive-behavioral-sensory- affective model of experience via imagination to include artistic connections such as symbolism, photo-editing, and perspective-taking.