The Greening of the Photography Industry

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Earth Day – a time to reflect or keep ourselves in check when it comes to our regular behavior.  Personally, I feel one day isn’t enough.  I think that thinking green is something we should do every day.  If we need reminders, we’re not doing our job.  But like the New Year, Earth Day has become a time where we all make promises to ourselves – promises to be greener.  Promises to be more aware of our practices, at least from an environmental standpoint.  So on this day, I’m going to cover a range of topics that directly affect you with regards to photography.

Digital Photography is Greener

I am a fan of film.  I love the quality of it, and I love the way it looks.  But for everyday shooting and practice, my film camera sits on the sidelines.  The reason is simple:  Avoiding waste – wasted film, wasted developing, even wasted money.  It would be environmentally negligent of me if I were to develop or have developed hundreds of frames that I have no intent of ever printing.  It would be wasteful, and I refuse to waste such resources and chemicals on photos that will not be portfolio worthy.  That said, I will pull out the film camera for specific photo shoots when I want a certain quality that cannot yet be achieved with film.  But the digital camera – the more environmentally friendly camera – is my primary camera.  And when I find a photo I need to print, I’ll print it.  But I don’t have to print the hundreds of other images that I don’t need.  On demand digital printing is helping tremendously to eliminate print-waste.

Use Power Wisely

Okay, so we’re not in a day and age (yet) where energy is 100% clean.  Many of you get your power from unclean sources.  Like many of you, I also cannot afford green power – though options are springing up and I plan to switch in the near future.  But until then, that doesn’t mean I have to waste electricity and power.  For starters, I use rechargeable batteries.  I’m still consuming electricity, but at least I’m not depositing shells filled with potentially toxic chemicals.  One rechargeable battery can save hundreds of traditional batteries from ending up in landfills.  I also am careful not to have power-packs plugged in longer than I need.  Phone chargers, camera battery chargers – even computers that aren’t running will consume power unnecessarily.  I’ll admit, I got tired of unplugging the power packs all the time, so I found a simple solution:  Switches.  I placed a few of the electrical outlets on a switch, and I make sure to plug my gear into those.  When not in use, I simply turn the switch off – power is gated and barred.  No waste.  Finally, I try to be conservative with gas.  Google Maps is a great way to plan your routes – but it’s also a great way to scout out some locations from Street View.  I also will regularly search locations on Flickr to see how shots by other people.  Such information helps me to plan my shoots without wasting unnecessary travel time and gas.

Greener Photography

Greener Photography is an organization and community focused on environmentally friendly photographic techniques and practices.  If you have a photography business, it may be worth becoming a member and going through the membership certification process – there are a few different levels.  To be certified, you will need to document and prove that you meet each level’s criteria.  But besides the marketing value of being certified, it earns you a few other benefits including links from their community site, access to forums of like-minded individuals and discounts on products and services from companies supporting Greener Photography.

Photographers – Stronger Than The Pen

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but a picture is worth a thousand words.  I have no idea where either of those quotes came from, but they are very much true, especially in this day and age.  People are more likely to react to what they see than any other form of communication.  Unfortunately, people don’t see the worst first-hand.  That’s where you, as a photographer, come in.  Whenever I see waste, trash, pollution or the sad results of pollution, I make sure to document it.  Share your photographs of waste or pollution, and I’m sure you’ll impact at least one person.  If each of us can affect just one more person, we can hopefully educate the masses about what we’re really doing to ourselves here on this earth.  As a photographer, it’s your duty to document our failures and help educate the next generation and our own.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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