Using eye contact to help protect endangered species

solar-selfies-shareableEye contact is our strongest form of non-verbal communication and plays a critical role in initiating emotional relationships between people (and other species).

Photographers, for example, know that getting subjects to look directly at the lens of the camera is more likely to create an instant and intimate connection with the viewer than other compositions.

Unfortunately, eye contact has been an indirect victim of our love of mobile devices and screens that distract our attention and replace face to face interactions. As a result, many conversations now involve little or no eye contact.

Perhaps this trend helps to explain our current fascination with ‘selfies’? (Funny to think that people are using the technology that has reduced eye contact to reintroduce it in a different form.)

And it probably contributes to the power of the ‘solar selfies’ newspaper ads that were released by the Clean Energy Council a few weeks ago.

The ads are a montage of hundreds of people employed in the Australian solar industry who responded to a request by the Council.

They form part of a campaign that aims to show Federal Members of Parliament the faces of some of the industry’s 13,000 technical, administrative, sales and marketing, management and other workers whose jobs will be at risk if our Renewable Energy Target is scaled back or scrapped.

(Everyone is encouraged to share the images online or to print out and display the ‘Save Jobs in Solar’ poster and infographics – available via the Clean Energy Council website.)


Over the past 50 years Steve Parish has photographed all sorts of fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and other magnificent Australian animals, as well as insects, flora and landscapes.

He also uses eye contact to increase the likelihood that audiences will connect with his images.

Perhaps this is why cute furry animals and ‘charismatic mega-fauna’ feature in wildlife conservation ads and campaigns and have been relatively successful in attracting funding and public concern?

Making meaningful connections with fungus, insects and other species is more difficult as eye contact cannot be used to engender intimacy in quite the same way.

Sources (Accessed 16 Oct 2014):

Image credits:

  • Solar selfies poster – Clean Energy Council
  • Steve Parish powerpoint slide – Pip Marks

Categories: Energy, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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