10 Tips For Green Photography - 4/20/08
In honor of Earth Day, the Earth-friendly photographer’s manifesto
Photography can be a very environmentally friendly medium. For those interested in trying to preserve the world they photograph, here are a few simple guidelines to help reduce, reuse, recycle and raise your eco-friendliness as a photographer.
1. Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible. When rechargeables aren't practical, be sure to properly recycle all depleted batteries. If you'd like to really elevate the bar, find ways to recharge your batteries with renewable energy-whether that's with portable solar chargers or by converting your studio or home to utilize sources like wind and solar power.
2. Be low impact-particularly when photographing the natural world. Consider the old motto to leave only footprints and take only pictures. Don't wander off the beaten path, don't rearrange nature to make your shot just right, don't disturb the animals you may encounter, and for goodness' sake, carry out everything you carry in. Campers and hikers have been following these rules for generations; photographers-especially now that they're primarily not expending film when they're out and about-don't have much excuse not to do the same.
4. Go paperless. Consider proofing your photos on-screen rather than on the printed page. When it comes time for sharing, don't hesitate to use the Internet in lieu of prints-particularly when you're not sure what your friends, family or clients may want with your photos.
5. Set computers to minimize wasteful consumption and phantom power. Modern operating systems have comprehensive energy-saving features, so make use of them to slow your screen, hard drive and computer when not in use and to completely turn them off at specific intervals. Consider implementing power strips for peripherals to easily turn them off and minimize their phantom power drain.
6. When it's time to print your photos at the lab, send them electronically. Many labs offer FTP delivery, but if yours doesn't yet, consider using a third-party service to deliver your files electronically rather than getting in the car and driving across town. When it comes time to pick up prints-or to deliver files to a lab that won't accept them any other way-make fewer trips by multitasking and getting multiple orders at once.
7. Recycle your computer and hardware when it's outlived its usefulness, but not a minute before. Utilize sites like eBay to find a new home for your equipment if you'd like to make a buck, or just donate it to a good cause. Failing an official donation, consider giving camera gear as a gift to a friend or loved one who may have an interest in learning about photography. You're sure to find plenty of people who'd like to have a camera that's outlived its usefulness to you, and if you don't know anyone personally who fits that mold, look into donating it to an organization that will put it to good use. When all else fails, bite the bullet and have the hardware recycled by one of the many organizations dedicated to keeping electronics out of landfills.
8. Recycle all the packaging that comes with every purchase. That means everything from digital camera boxes to the cardboard sleeves that house inkjet papers and supplies. Don't forget to recycle the inkjet cartridges too. Many retailers even offer discounts on future purchases against recycled products.
9. In this green-conscious era, it's easier than ever to learn which manufacturers make environmental issues a primary concern. Investigate which companies, retailers and service providers also share your concern for environmentally friendly photography and reward them with your business.
10. Don't forget to use your chosen medium for a good purpose. Take pictures that document both the beauty of our natural world and the problems we may encounter. Photographers can easily show with a camera what words may fail to describe. Don't be afraid to use your skills to spread a message-any message-that may be important to you.