CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHY 101
Master how to find, photograph and pitch a powerful conservation story without the overwhelm of where to start, the stifling insecurity about getting the “right” images, or frustrating confusion over how to connect with editors.
Enrollment opens again October 2021
Join the waitlist & be first to know when doors open
LEARN FROM A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER & PHOTO EDITOR
Hi, I'm Jaymi Heimbuch
I’ve been a professional wildlife conservation photographer for over a decade, and am a freelance photo editor for conservation-focused publications. Equal to my passion of pursuing stories is my joy of teaching others and helping YOU attain your greatest goals.
I know how difficult it can feel to get started in your conservation photography journey. Trust me, I've been there! And every day I see pitches for photo stories, so I know what gets attention and Yes answers.
I am all about building strategies that minimize overwhelm, spiraling, and stagnation so you can gain momentum. Because what you do with your photography talents means the world to us all (literally).
I've had the honor of watching my students tackle the challenges and break through barriers in how they approach a story, how they approach their image creation, and importantly, how they think about themselves as conservation photographers.
Pulling from my love of structure and organization, and my passion for teaching conservation storytelling, I’ve crafted a system that will help you get out of the thought spiral and into the field making waves.
What Students Say
Before this program, I had a lot of questions. I tried to figure it out by myself, but trial and error takes a lot of time. It was great to have immediate clarification and feedback on the direction I’m going in conservation photography.
Going through the whole story creation process from start to finish made me feel confident that I can do this again on my own.
Jennifer Leigh Warner
I am a conservation photographer living in central Texas and I primarily focus on human-wildlife coexistence stories.
When I was pitching stories to editors, it was crickets. I wasn't hearing anything back. And that made me doubt myself. I was second guessing what I was doing, and I didn't have a support system to say, “You're on the right track” or “Maybe you should tweak this”. I was doing everything completely on my own and with my own gut instincts – and I was doubting if my gut instincts were right.
It was making me afraid to continue to pitch because I was afraid that I was just sending out a bunch of junk into the universe. I know that first impressions are really important in an industry like this, and I was afraid that I was going to develop a bad reputation of somebody who doesn't know what they're doing.
I’m a member of Wild Idea Lab and I was hearing a lot of people who are taking Conservation Photography 101 talk about all the amazing things that they were getting out of it.
People were saying, “If you're having a hard time putting together photo stories, then this is a class that is going to be tremendously helpful in guiding you to getting to the success that you're looking for.”
When I enrolled, I wasn't making a lot of income because a lot of my photo tours had been canceled due to COVID. The cost investment felt like a bit of a barrier for me. But I believe in investing in education so I went for it.
This course has been absolutely worth the investment. When you have an actual step-by-step course that teaches you everything you need to know, and have a support system to show you you're on the right track or maybe you need to take it back to the drawing board, it's absolutely worth it. Without it, you are going to spend a lot of time trying to navigate these things on your own, second guessing yourself.
Thanks to Conservation Photography 101, I've had success with getting the attention of the people I'm trying to pitch to. I’m having open conversations with editors as opposed to hearing nothing back.
I have gone from the beginning to the end of the course and applied everything. I was very careful to not just try to skip ahead and think, “Oh, I already know this”, because that's a really easy way to miss important learning opportunities.
And when I completed a story and sent it to an editor, that editor’s response was probably the most encouraging thing I had ever heard. He said that the combination of story woven in with the narrative was one of the best story narratives he's ever seen. And that's an editor who's been around for 25 years! So that was a big confidence boost.
From that, I've been putting together new stories, and I just feel really confident with taking what I've learned from the first photo story and being able to quickly put together a new one without having to spend a lot of time figuring out what I'm gonna do because I already have the framework that this course is created for me.
Even outside of pitching stories, I'm seeing a greater success in working with organizations that I've been partnered with, and I’m helping them have a greater understanding of what we can accomplish together as I tell their stories through images. I can now see what the needs are of the organization, and using the storytelling skills I’ve gained, I can create great assets for them to use for outreach and fundraising.
The ongoing Q&A is a huge bonus. Whether I am just listening to what other people are working on or I'm getting the hot seat for the day, that has been tremendously helpful for brainstorming.
And, as soon as I enrolled, I had a group of people who were on the same journey as me that I could speak my thoughts out loud to, and who were helping me re-evaluate how I was pitching, how I was creating photo stories.
I’ve experienced an immense change in everything that I'm doing. Even if I’m just going out to photograph for the day, instead of grabbing random shots I’m thinking about the variety of shots I need to get to tell a story. I used to look through what I had already photographed and see if I could find storytelling shots in my archive. Now, I pre-plan shoots. I'm using what I've learned in the course to be more strategic in all aspects of my photography.
To be honest, I studied photography in college. I feel like you learn so much more in this than you would in a college. And if you really think about what is involved… if you do a one-week workshop you're probably going to spend at least $3000-$4000 to be in person. But with CP101, you don't have that investment of having to travel somewhere, you can do it at your leisure, and it never really ends. You just keep learning. You can't beat the price for what you're gonna learn in this course.
As someone who has spent so many years of my life trying to figure it out on my own, it's better to just admit what I don't know and let people help me (and I am not somebody who likes to ask for help).
I knew going into this course that if I was going to spend the money, then I was going to absolutely participate, and I'm really glad that I did because I think it's 100% worth it.
As a professional conservation visual storyteller, I want to be an inspiration to the next generation of African Conservation Photographers. But it’s very difficult to make a career in this field, and I wanted training to help me achieve my goals.
There was no structured program before, and all I could do was look at other photographers’ work and imagine the steps of what they did to get their conservation photo stories and be impactful in the process.
When I found CP101, it helped me realize the importance of having a step to step approach in doing a conservation photo story and this has come a long way in designing all my photography assignments.
I have been applying everything I have learned from the course on all my assignments so far and I am forever grateful. I have seen a lot of changes too. The program is like the back bone of my conservation photography professional career.
I want to be a conservation photographer but I didn’t have the storytelling skills to really get started. I was insecure about how to move forward, and I hadn't seen a class that taught the skills I would need. You probably don't want to know what I was saying to myself – suffice it to say, it wasn't positive!
I've read articles on how to become a Conservation Photographer, but that does not even begin to compare with what you learn in this course. Here, you get the “nuts and bolts” on how to move forward with the goal to enter this field that you won't get anywhere else. I now know how to research conservation stories and to better plan my images so that they tell a story.
When I saw CP101, I didn’t have any hesitation about enrolling. And now, I’m on my way! I have a specific goal to get published and more importantly, I have a plan and resources to accomplish it.
I love to be outside with my camera but I struggled with a drifting lack of focus. I wasn’t pushing my photography skills. I felt confused and discouraged about how to make a real difference, and how to contribute in a way that also generates some income.
This course was a perfect fit and I just jumped in head first. This is such a strong, cohesive program and Jaymi’s encouragement for large and small gains really pushed me to try harder and be better. I have way more options to choose from when shooting, and I find myself looking for story-telling photos more consistently now.
One of the richest things about this course has been the access to Jaymi and the student group. I learned so much from everyone. With so much information to inspire and challenge, you can't help but grow your expertise. Jaymi's connections and wealth of information along with the diverse experience of group participants is priceless.
Now I feel like I have all the tools, and know what direction to go in.
I had no idea how to package my work to present it to others and nobody…would…return…my ….emails….nobody! I was pretty frustrated. I thought I had some good images but I wasn't making any progress in selling those images. I really wanted to learn how to pitch my work to editors and get responses.
This course has changed my approach to my photo storytelling. I now know a good story when I see it and I know when one of my story ideas isn't quite there yet.
And, one of the stories I worked on during this course has been accepted for publication by a national magazine! WOOOHOOO! That's what we're talkin' about!
Being part of the student group and taking part in the Q&As really accelerated my learning. It was so helpful to hear other student’s frustrations and watch Jaymi coach them into practical next steps. Now I have more tools when I have those same frustrations.
You can study all sorts of information and practice hard to become a good photographer. And in time, you can probably also learn to put together nice photo essays that convey an idea. Until the Conservation Photography 101 course came along, I'm not sure you could learn to do conservation photography without spending a decade developing the contacts, learning what works, and having plenty of luck along the way. After taking this course, I feel I've learned the fundamentals and have success pitching stories, doing fundraisers and building collaborations with conservation organizations.
As a matter of fact, within four months from the start of this course, I went from being frustrated that I couldn't get prospective clients and collaborators to return my calls and emails, to a national magazine editor telling me that they wanted to publish the story I pitched. I can't think of a better result than that!
I like to explore conservation issues and bring light to them. But I have really struggled with entering the publishing forum. I didn’t know what the steps were to get to the end, or how to plan out my work. I loved this program because it focuses on the process and helps people put their plan into action.
Jaymi provides a great mix of keeping people on task, but without too much pressure. I came away with so much, both in knowledge and confidence. As a nonjournalist, a non-professional photographer, this realm can feel intimidating. But I didn’t feel that with Jaymi. She recognizes everyone has a part to play in conservation photography.
One of my biggest struggles was getting my head wrapped around all the different elements of a story and how I wanted to tell it. With this workshop, I felt encouraged facing that challenge and figuring out how to piece together a complete story that could be published in a magazine.
To be able to see my portfolio come together felt very rewarding. I now think beyond single images, and feel more comfortable pursuing stories and talking to new people. I didn’t have any idea how to go about writing grants or reaching out to editors. But I feel encouraged now.
I am so impressed by how dedicated Jaymi is to teaching. She’s always going above and beyond. I can tell she really wants to be there as much as the participants, which is a great feeling.
Before taking Conservation Photography 101, I wasn’t feeling confident in pitching photo stories to magazines as my previous experience was in pitching stories as a writer. I wanted to fill in the gaps of my knowledge so I could land editorial photo assignments. I kept backing out of sending pitches, as I didn't want to get myself into a situation where I wasn't putting my best self forward.
Now, not only do I have a deeper and more complete understanding of pitching a photo story, but also what it takes to complete an editorial assignment and to design and roll out a larger project. I had holes in my stories before and now I feel I can more confidently shoot the variety and quality of pictures needed to tell the whole story and offer editors a good selection of images. I feel I am a better storyteller from this experience. I’m also finding my unique style and bringing that out more in my photography.
I have published three stories since I joined the course, and while I had pitched and had these stories accepted before the course started, I feel that the work I am submitting in terms of capturing the whole story is improving each time because of the CP 101 experience.
I am also putting together pitches for two additional stories to national magazines, both ideas were developed and honed in CP 101. Now I have the confidence to actually send the pitches off.
Since I could walk I've loved animals, and I have been very worried about conservation. I got involved with photography, and I always thought there wasn't really a path to being a conservation photographer outside of being a Nat Geo staff photographer.
So I wondered, Where does my work go? It's such a shame because you can post your pictures on Instagram, but your work dies there. My biggest challenge was learning how to extend my work beyond that, to use it for something bigger. There’s a frustration that you want to do this work and you want to make a difference, and yet how do you gain an outlet?
The next challenge was overcoming the self-doubt around if my work deserves to be in a space that professionals are operating in. I was feeling that whole fraud complex of: “definitely not worthy”.
I found Conservation Photography 101 and thought, “This is what I've been looking for all this time! A resource that's gonna get me from a one-shot photographer to someone who can start to tell these stories and then learn how to tell those stories to other people.”
The growth that I've seen out of myself and my work has been huge. The way that I approached my relationships with volunteers and scientists, the way that I photograph them, even the way that I'm storyboarding and thinking about shots has all really changed since I've started the course.
Storytelling was not even in my vocabulary before Conservation Photography 101. I was looking for just the wildlife aspects, but now I'm looking for those elements that make it different and make it a story.
Having access to Jaymi, a professional in the field, and having her feedback is so helpful because then I can go and do the work in a much better way.
And our student group, The Quad, is a network of superstars. It's such a diverse meeting of the minds and a great group to spitball off of. Having that accountability component is great because when you're taking the course, it might be hard to keep going if you're not constantly checking in. With this course, you can learn how to make these amazing stories and take them to the next level. And when it's coupled with this group of people that's also pushing the same direction, you really make it happen.
I definitely wouldn't have pursued my early story ideas without the course because I wouldn't have known where to start. I already have six months of work with organizations and thousands of images that I'm proud to put in my portfolio.
On day one Jaymi said, “You all are now conservation photographers,” and I really love speaking things into existence. If you don't want to engage in the greatest fight that humanity's ever faced, if you don't want to be on the frontlines of telling the story of humanity, then yeah, don't sign up.
If you want to be here, and if you want to be in the action, and if you want to be inspiring others, this course will change your life if you let it. I am not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life.
This is the ride of a lifetime, and I can't wait to see how my journey continues and evolves in this course.
Enrollment opens again October 2021
Join the waitlist & be first to know when doors open