Top tips on how to be more environmentally conscious with your photography
As a photographer, there are many things you can do to contribute positively to helping the environment and reduce carbon emissions when creating images, and much of it is incredibly simple. Here's how:
1 Take fewer flights
"...a slower, overland journey is far more inspiring for your work and creativity... embrace the adventure - your camera will thank you for it."
One of the most significant ways anyone can reduce their carbon footprint is by taking fewer flights. If you can travel overland by train, bus or ship to your destination as an alternative to flying, then do. As a photographer, you’ll most likely find that a slower, overland journey is far more inspiring for your work and creativity too - you'll be able to see so much more. So embrace the adventure of travelling overland - your camera will thank you for it.
However if have no choice but to fly, many airlines, such as British Airways and Easyjet allow you to balance your carbon emissions with their carbon offset schemes, so you can still help the environment (see tip 10).
2 Switch off and unplug your equipment when not in use
A really simple one. When you’re not using your equipment, be it small bits of camera equipment or your whole post-production workstation - turn it off. If you can completely unplug your equipment or take them off standby too, even better.
3 Use rechargeable batteries for your equipment
Invest in rechargeable batteries for all your photography equipment, not just your camera. Using them for accessories like flashguns will go a long way to help you reduce your carbon footprint and you’ll be replacing thousands of single-use batteries over time.
4 Buy used gear, sell your old gear, and avoid upgrading too frequently
"Buying and selling pre-loved camera gear is one of the most effective ways you can reduce CO2 emissions with your photography work."
Buying and selling pre-loved camera gear is one of the most effective ways you can reduce CO2 emissions with your photography work. Environmentally conscious marketplaces like MPB make it incredibly easy to sell and buy quality used items while helping the environment. And, you’ll also be saving yourself a significant amount of money compared with buying new.
Make sure you use your kit as much as you possibly can before turning it in and getting an upgrade. A camera body should last you several years, and lenses even longer. By not upgrading to the latest model every time one comes out, you'll be massively helping to reduce your photography carbon footprint.
5 Buy from brands dedicated to helping the environment
Research what photography brands are doing when it comes to being eco-friendly, like emission reduction, plastic use and packaging, so you can make a more informed decision on where you buy your kit from. Photography brands are becoming more environmentally-conscious more than ever, and many have active policies in place aimed at combatting environmental and climate issues.
For example, companies like the accessory manufacturer, Urth, pledge to plant trees for every purchase you make - and many brands also so if you buy from eco-aware brands, it can have a significant impact on the environment and reducing carbon emissions.
6 Plan your shoots well in advance
Preparing for all your photoshoots in advance can reduce their impact on the environment. Plan how you’re going to get there, how long you’re going to spend there, and what you need to take with you. Pack everything up well before you’re due to head out–by doing this, you’re less likely to forget anything that would require a last-minute extra trip, and you’ll also be able to work out the most environmentally friendly way to reach your destination (see the next tip).
7 Use public transport or travel in groups
If your destination is easily reachable by public transport, use it.
"If you take public transport as much as you can, your carbon footprint will be significantly less over time compared with using your own transport for the same journeys."
If you take public transport as much as you can, your carbon footprint will be significantly less over time compared with using your own transport for the same journeys.
Some places however, particularly for landscape photography, may only be accessible with private transport. If this is the case, try to travel in groups. Team up with other photographers looking to go the same place as you and share a vehicle. This way, not only will you be collectively reducing your carbon footprint by reducing the number of individual journeys, but you’ll also be in the company of fellow photographers, which is a great way to build connections and bounce ideas off each other.
If you’re unsure about how to go about getting a group together for your shoot, a good place to start is by joining local photography groups, either in person or online like Facebook, and asking around.
8 Consolidate your shoots into longer trips
If you’re planning on photoshoots in different locations, try to consolidate these into a single ‘trip’.
For example, if you plan to take pictures in several spots in a national park that are relatively close to each other, try to make this a single trip with individual stops, rather than travelling to-and-from each destination. This way, you’ll be reducing the overall mileage and fuel consumption needed to visit each place–better for both the planet and your wallet!
9 Make your business paperless
If you have a requirement for any paperwork related to your shoots, for example, model releases or invoice - create these digitally rather than printing them out. In fact, with suites such as Google Workspace and the use of e-signatures, it’s entirely feasible for all of your photography business administration to be fully digital. So if you haven't already, make the jump.
10 Pay into a carbon offsetting scheme
A carbon offset scheme lets you put money into environmental projects that are designed to reduce carbon emissions. You can even work out your emissions by using carbon calculators like this one here–so you know exactly how much to put in.
This way, if it’s inevitable you’re going to be creating significant emissions from your photography work, then you have an opportunity to balance it out.