Photography for conservation

  • Photo contributed by Courtney Mooney / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Courtney Mooney

  • Photo contributed by Courtney Mooney / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    This photo, entitled “Cells,” shows similarities between ocean patterns and cellular structure.

East Coast photographer Courtney Mooney is using art to fight climate change, and with proceeds from one series on exhibit at the Center for Healing Arts in Kapaa is supporting research to conserve Hawaiian coral reefs.

“‘Aloha Kai” is a series that was sparked on Kauai after she spent time working in New York.

“In Kauai, I started photographing the waves, and that’s when the series started to come alive,” Mooney said. “The message is simple — the love of the ocean as a reflection of oneself. We are not separate from the ocean. The health of the ocean is the health of us.”

The photos in the series all look at the similarities between biology and the composition of the ocean — like the photograph entitled “Membrane” that highlights the “skin” of the ocean in a black-and-white, highly textured image.

The show closes this month, and Mooney says she hasn’t raised that much yet, but wants to connect with nonprofits and use photographs to promote their conservation efforts on Kauai.

It’s just a drop in the bucket for environmental advocacy, but she’s dedicated to raising environmental awareness.

“Coral reefs are the most threatened ecosystem on earth yet they harbor endless biodiversity,” Mooney said. “I believe Kauai can become a leader and an example to our country about how to protect these God-given resources.”

The series is the first she’s done to support coral reefs, and Mooney said she has sights set on doing more.

“I would love to collaborate with the organizations in Kauai doing this work already,” Mooney said. “Hawaii is one of the most beautiful islands in our country. And coral reefs and the islands are some of the first victims of environmental catastrophe.

She continued: “We are on the verge of losing all of our islands and the coral reefs if we do not take immediate concern and responsibility now.”

Mooney said she was born a humanitarian, an environmentalist and an activist who is motivated by photography, good music and nature.

She said she’s also inspired by human resilience in times of suffering, and is working on two projects focusing on female empowerment and climate change.

“Since I was a little girl I was always concerned with the welfare of others, and I always found deep peace in nature and its beauty. That is where I would talk to God, amongst creation,” Mooney said. “I have always been witnessing corrupt structures, critiquing them, and finding my voice to stand up against them.”


Jessica Else, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or


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