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Ethical Nature Photography

Nature photography is a great hobby, one that allows us to get close to wild lives and wild places. It can inspire, educate and bring moments of pure joy.

It can also, often unintentionally, bring harm, even death to what we photograph. Baiting or harassing wildlife, trampling vegetation or damaging habitat in search of a better photo take a horrible toll.

Do No Harm should be your first rule says Melissa Groo, an Associate Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. She says:

“There’s no question we have an impact when we venture into wildlife’s territory. We seek or stumble onto their roosts and dens, their feeding and gathering places. Does that mean we shouldn’t ever get out there and raise our cameras? Absolutely not. Nature needs our stories, now more than ever. But nature also needs us to come in with a heightened level of awareness of our effects.”

Wildlife conservation is the reason Canadian Brad Hill got into wildlife photography. He places the welfare and value of his subjects above the value of any photo he might take of them:

“It's my belief that all wildlife photographers - be they amateurs or professionals - should think about and consider their actions and what impact they have, or could potentially have, on their subjects. And then they should take the next step and actively find ways to reduce and minimize their impact."

Whatever we photograph—from a bull moose or a short-eared owl to a single Calypso orchid or a drop of dew on a grass blade—we can bring respect and awareness to our subject, ensuring we follow the best practices of good stewardship.

P.S. As more and more of us venture into nature, conflicts can arise when photographers go onto private land without permission. Trespassing is illegal. Please ask the landowner before you open the gate, step over the barbwire or wander onto unfenced crop land.

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