Let’s talk about embodying ‘Leave No Trace’ in photography work. With this blog post highlighting a redwood elopement, what better time to do so?
Photographers and clients are both super likely to choose beautiful natural locations for photography sessions – and it’s not hard to understand why – but in order for these beautiful places to stay healthy ecosystems, photographers are hugely culpable in making sure they remain protected.
So what are a few basic things we can do to help?
1. Refrain from geo-tagging hyper specific locations. There have been far too many examples of natural places going viral online and becoming intensely damaged as a result. Instead, I reccomended tagging generalized locations. Encourage exploring the whole space! Not just going for one specific place and look.
2. Please don’t bring littering props like confetti. Even things that are marketed as bio-degradable or are completely natural can be damaging to the environment – so if you’re bringing it in, make sure you’re bringing it all back out. This goes for bouquet flowers too! If the plant matter isn’t native to the ecosystem – it can be damaging to it.
3. Don’t be afraid of a little photography magic. In some of these photos the couple was standing on a defined clearing and path – which was perfect for them – but easily edited out of the photos. It’s super simple to use the clone and heal tools to fill in that empty space, giving you the aesthetic of being completely surrounded by nature while also not damaging the existing plant life. Do everything you can to avoid stepping off paths and disturbing plant life.
4. Respect wildlife. I know it’s tempting to get close to frame them behind our clients, but any decreased distance can be stressful for them. Animals aren’t props, and we are visitors in their home! Let’s give them the space, quiet, and cleanliness they deserve.
Our planet is strong and resilient, but so many of our ecosystems are also incredibly fragile. Areas covered in beautiful moss or parts of the desert covered in a cryptobiotic soil crust would make beautiful places for photographs – but can’t handle the foot traffic. So stick to the trails during any nature, desert, redwood elopement and let’s keep things safe – for you, for me, and for all the living creatures around us.