During the last few years, I have seen my share of the growth of people in our public lands. Social media has played a large part in fueling people’s passion to get outdoors, which in itself isn’t a bad thing. The part that turns bad is that many people are disrespecting our public places and damaging pristine areas that have an impact possibly for generations to come. Photographers are not exempt from some of the bad behavior. When a photographer posts photos to social media, others tend to follow and want to get the same shots.

Witnessing Bad Behavior

All photographers at one point have probably witnessed bad behavior while out in the field. Once while out at the Painted Hills in eastern Oregon, my husband and I witnessed a group of guys shooting golf balls into the pristine landscape that has restricted access. One guy had a camera and was photographing the golfer. Our first reaction was to ask them to stop and explain they weren’t allowed to do that. One of the guys in the group began approaching us in a threatening way. He told us to mind our own business. We decided to leave the scene out of fear. They probably continued on after we left. 

Painted Hills

Abstract image taken in the Painted Hills in Mitchell, Oregon.

As nature photographers we have a responsibility to lead by example by practicing Leave No Trace principles, not sharing sensitive location information widely, and educating the public when applicable. Recently a group of talented photographers, created an alliance called, Nature First Photography Alliance. The whole goal of the alliance is to protect and preserve our public lands. Below are seven core principles the group of photographers came up with to help with the current problem we are seeing. 

Nature First Principles

  1. Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
  2. Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
  3. Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
  4. Use discretion if sharing locations.
  5. Know and follow rules and regulations.
  6. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
  7. Actively promote and educate others about these principles.

If you are interested in joining the alliance, you can join and become a member for free. If we all do our part it will begin to make a difference. Find out more information on the Nature First website. 

Nature First logo