By Kelly Zwicker
This week, the Fashion for Conservation (FFC) team recognizes wildlife photographer Chantelle Melzer. Raised in Zululand, South Africa, Chantelle was always drawn to capturing wildlife in the African bush. Although studying Natural Sciences proved to cater to Chantelle’s desire to be involved in animal research, her other passion is art. Photography gives Chantelle an artistic outlet, while additionally promoting conservation through her images of incredible species.
Chantelle is constantly inspired by her photography. “It’s the concept of visual storytelling. I love capturing moments in time, fine details, moods and emotions that tell a story. I have always had a fascination and love for art in its many forms, but it is photography which has become the primary medium that allows me to explore and express that passion.”
Photography has indeed become Chantelle’s full-time profession, and it gives her consistent opportunities to fully appreciate what nature and wildlife have to offer. Taking the time to capture precious moments of wildlife provides the unseen beauty of the natural environment that many people do not get to see, or stop to observe. Chantelle aims to educate people on the importance of conservation by inspiring them with her photographs.
Chantelle’s combined passions of art and wildlife for the greater good is very similar to FFC’s drive to combine fashion and conservation. Elephantasia, the current campaign of FFC, motivated Chantelle to get involved due to elephants being one of her favorite subject matters. She initially made contact with FFC creator Ava Holmes, brainstorming ideas and thinking about potential collaborations. “This introduced me to the concept of Fashion for Conservation,” exclaims Chantelle, “ which really struck a chord with me as I have often thought of how wonderful it would be to bring more conservation-based ethics into the fashion industry, and how conservation projects and initiatives could benefit from the support of the fashion industry.”
Chantelle feels grateful to live in Southern Africa to be in the presence of elephants and witness their amazing traits. Chantelle refers to them as “intelligent, emotive, powerful yet gentle sentient beings,” although the illegal ivory trade casts a dark shadow on the survival of so many elephants even today. Elephantasia, being so centered on helping elephants and their way of live in the wild, immediately struck a chord with Chantelle to participate with her powerful photography.
In terms of what FFC has to offer, Chantelle views the organization as a dual effort, both promoting the beauty and necessity of wildlife and the natural world, as well as recognizing how to create sustainable fashion within it. “I love the feeling of unity of purpose,” she says, “the passion behind this drive, and the possibilities of what could be achieved.”
Combining the worlds of nature and fashion makes sense due to how much inspiration nature has already given fashion in the past. The current initiative of FFC is to ensure that it is a sustainable combination that in fact re-invests money in conservation in addition to the awareness and appreciation other brands have accomplished. Chantelle fully supports this movement and looks forward to the progress to be made in future events and projects.
As Chantelle also recognizes, the fashion world often comes at the expense of the natural environment. “We do live in a very broken world where priorities of so many have shifted towards keeping up with popular trends,” she admits, “with little or no regard for the negative impacts they might have, rather than actually focusing on preserving the natural habitats around us.” It saddens Chantelle that the fashion industry often has such devastating effects on the environment and the beautiful wildlife she aims to protect.
Chantelle believes in the FFC initiative to bridge the gap between fashion and conservation and focus individuals’ attention back towards conservation efforts, while still highlighting beautiful creations from featured designers. Currently, Chantelle views FFC as a revolutionary movement.
In terms of FFC going more international, Chantelle also incorporates her support given her residing in South Africa.”It is critical that ideology of FFC is spread rapidly and showcased all over the world,” she exclaims, “ in order to bring about a global shift in mindset and to inspire a trend aimed at supporting conservation through fashion.”
The FFC team is thrilled to have such a talented and passionate wildlife photographer on board for future projects and for increasing conservation awareness.The images alone that Chantelle has captured speak volumes without having to say anything at all, and that is the beauty of photography as an art form.
For more of Chantelle’s exquisite work, visit her website: chantellemelzer.com
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