Our planet is incredibly priceless. Without its countless beautiful destinations and invaluable wildlife, most photographers wouldn’t have the same passion for photography that they do today. But now more than ever, our planet is needing protection and care. Even the smallest step in conservation and responsibility can make the difference. Photographers are constantly out in the field, no matter their focus. You don’t have to be a landscape or wildlife photographer to find yourself in a beautiful destination that is fragile and valuable to humanity as a whole. It is our job, when we find ourselves in these places, to do everything we can to have a minimal impact on the environments we are in and leave no trace.
Leave no trace, or photography, is a movement that has grown in popularity over the years, and is a standard that should have been set long before. Like professional rock climbers, who found a better, “cleaner” way to climb rather than using pitons that permanently damaged the rock face, professional photographers need to practice “clean” photography and not potentially damage the world they shoot in. With the many things that negatively affect our world, photography shouldn’t be one of them. Rather, it should be the opposite, and a way to tell our planet’s beautiful story, not shorten it. So here are four tips to help minimize your negative impact and leave no trace so our world stays beautiful for years to come.
1. Understand the environments you photograph in
This might seem like an obvious tip, but many do not take the time to do this. Whether you’re in the mountains or in the desert, you have to understand the environments you’re in. For example, high alpine environments are home to fragile tundra and vegetation that takes many years to grow, and is an important food source for several species of mountain animals. Even a small, unassuming step can damage this important biome and leave a negative mark that takes years to recover from.
Great photos sometimes require wandering off the marked trail or designated lookout point, but when that happens, always be careful where you step, what you walk through, and how you carry yourself. And if there are direct signs or rules about staying on the trail, obey them. Always know the environment you photograph in so you can cause less negative impact.