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Nature First: Photographers Need to Be Aware of Their Impact

Environmental responsibility plays a huge role in the photography community, whether we realize it or not. If you’re going to take part in enjoying and photographing nature – it’s critical to be aware of the issues surrounding our public lands and make sure we try our best to not negatively impact these spaces.

But what exactly does that mean? And how does it effect me as an individual? I recently joined Nature First, an alliance for responsible nature photography, and they have done a great job at breaking down a complex topic into a few simple guidelines. Here is how you can use the ideas supporting Nature First while in the field.


These 4 principles were developed to help educate and guide both professional and recreational photographers in sustainable, minimal impact practices that will help preserve nature’s beautiful locations.

  • Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.

  • Educate yourself about the places you photograph.

  • Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.

  • Use discretion if sharing locations.

  • Know and follow rules and regulations.

  • Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.

  • Actively promote and educate others about these principles.

For example, a photographer can get so focused on getting the shot that they end up walking on biological soil, stepping on wildflowers or creating social trails. Over time, this can literally change the shape, ecosystem and overall beauty of a place. Especially when this is amplified by a heavy increase in foot traffic. This is also why it is important to refrain from sharing exact locations online, as it can drive traffic to one specific area that can’t sustain such impact.

“If nature photographers do not take this kind of collective, proactive action, not only will we continue to see extensive and irreparable damage to our most precious natural places but we will also see a growing number of regulations and restrictions put on photographers,” explains Nature First Alliance.

Please join us in considering and possibly re-thinking your own practices, adopting or adapting these principles, and helping promote these ideas among other photographers.

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