The NNFP promotes the mutual well being of workers, rural communities, and forests by supporting individuals and groups that build sustainable relationships between forests and people. In this photo essay, I aimed to portray this vital but tenuous relationship—between man and nature, between people and land—in myriad forms: through man’s interaction with the land, through issues facing our forested environment due to human involvement, and through visual metaphors that challenged viewers perceptions.

For years, I’ve had an interest in photography and it’s impact on our culture; in environmental issues of sustainability; and in social justice. The chance to work with this organization, therefore, was an incredible opportunity for me to combine my interests and highlight important forestry and human issues on a national scale, during the International Year of the Forests—a year dedicated to the forests that sustain our existence.

With the wind blowing across my face and some bluegrass music blasting on the radio, I hit the road in search of the elusive soul of the American forest. The journey changed me and it is our hope that the photos will do the same to viewers. In addition to becoming more aware of environmental issues, I became much more conscious of my own impact. I had a surreal experience on my six-week journey: one that made me appreciate my surroundings more and it has become my mission to help others do the same, with not only realism and facts, but with beauty and suggestion and intrigue.


Photographer: Josh Birnbaum / professional

Photographer Website:

Award Year: 2011

Non Profit: National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP)

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