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Nature First

30 Apr
Nature First :: WA

Nature First :: WA

 

Last week, Jennifer Renwick and Sarah Marino (both spectacular landscape photographers and humans!) approached me with a new initiative they are working on called “Nature First”.

In some ways, landscape photography is a double edged sword.  I think most of us get into this field because we love nature and want to celebrate and share the beauty of the world with others, in the hopes that we might inspire them to embrace nature as we have.  However, with the evolution of social media, and the affordability of travel, it’s become easier than ever for people to visit locations they’ve seen beautiful photos of…and without proper education and restraint, things can quickly get out of hand.  For example, a few weeks back, California experienced a super bloom of poppies – one of the most prolific years they’ve had in quite some time.  People flocked to see the flowers, to disastrous effect.   Tens of thousands of people descended on Lake Elsinore, and the popular Walker Canyon had to be shut down, as they could not accommodate the volume of visitors.  And the tourists themselves lacked the caution necessary to preserve such fragile locations, often straying from paths, disturbing wildlife (at least one rattlesnake bite was reported) and trampling huge swaths of the very thing they’d come to see.

In a similar example, just this past week, Panther Falls in Oregon closed the route to the lower falls because someone fell trying to see it.  That location was made popular by landscape photographers, and now, access is being restricted.

I cannot say that in my time as a photographer, I have never been careless, thoughtless or broken a rule I didn’t agree with.  But over time, I’ve come to realize that if I am to be a good steward for this planet, then I need to place its needs over the desire for a pretty shot.  I cannot assume that simply because I did the rock walk around fragile alpine that someone else will.  I can’t assume that because I know to keep a massive distance between myself and wildlife, and have access to a large zoom lens that someone else will.  I need to be more thoughtful in what I do, and just as importantly (if not more) in what I share, and how I share it.  Do I use my photos as teachable moments?  Do I use caution when posting fragile locations?  Am I doing my best to protect our green spaces?

To that end, Nature First has come up with a list of guidelines specifically for landscape photographers, in conjunction with the Leave No Trace 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’re interested in learning more about the Nature First movement, or better yet, joining, you can read about it over at https://www.naturefirstphotography.org
 
Every single one of us has the ability to make a positive difference and use our voice for change.  What will you do with yours?

Nirvana :: Ireland

25 Apr
Nirvana :: Ireland

Nirvana :: Ireland

Earth Day. A day when we remind each other to be good stewards, to protect the planet, to take care of our home – our only home. But in reality, those should be our goals for every day.

It’s easy to get discouraged, to think your efforts don’t matter. I’ve heard stories of people being berated: “You think recycling matters with the amount of polluting other people do???”

But change is slow. It’s not just about changing habits, but about changing society, and about placing our value on the longevity of the planet over the easy, cheap, and dangerous practices we have now. So while you may feel like your decision to avoid straws, or plastic bags, or to turn the water off while you brush your teeth, or to eat less meat, or to vote for responsible environmental laws are minuscule efforts in the face of a Herculean problem, remember that it’s just the beginning. Someone is watching, someone is learning from your decisions, and you are part of a domino effect for the better. So you recycle that container (etc) with pride, you trend-setter, you!  And know that you’re contributing to the health and well-being of our planet, and our species.

Kaleidoscope :: CT

29 Nov
Kaleidoscope :: CT

Kaleidoscope :: CT

 

The news these days is rough, but it’s important to remember that dark days are when we need to shine our lights the most, to bring some good back into the world. ❤

There is never a wrong time to show kindness, be empathetic, and help others. I encourage all of you to look into your hearts, and think about what you can do to help the world be a brighter, better, safer place. It’s when we come together with love and the mentality that we can make a difference that we start to see positive change in the world.

Black Sand :: Iceland

30 Oct
Black Sand :: Iceland

Black Sand :: Iceland

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” Vincent Van Gogh

I found out recently that one of my students passed away while out exploring his new home. It came as quite the shock for a lot of us that knew him, both in terms of a lost friend, and as a reminder of our own mortality and the risks associated with our passion – landscape photography.

My heart goes out to his loved ones. I hope you find comfort in the joyful memories you made together. ❤️

This shot is from a notoriously dangerous beach in Iceland, with warning signs that often go ignored or misunderstood by tourists. Reynisfjara beach has particularly dangerous waves due to the location and steepness of the continental shelf.

Starlight Sonata :: CO

11 Sep
Starlight Sonata :: CO

Starlight Sonata :: CO

I frequently wonder if I’m doing enough to make this world better. Am I recycling and conserving water? Am I speaking up about serious topics like conservation and equality? Am I leading by example?

The answers to those questions are both yes and no. I am doing those things, but I feel like I can do more.

The world is a spectacular place and for some people, a photograph is the closest they will get to seeing some of the beauty our world has to offer. There is something gratifying about knowing I’m able to give that gift to people through my images.

That being said, I think there is opportunity for photos to be more than just a passing like or comment or wallpaper. Sometimes I see shots that make my heart flutter (currently obsessed with @nlwirth ‘s tree work for example). I think that connection is the start of something magical. If you can make people love something, then they’ll work to protect it. Yeah, yeah, logically we KNOW we are harming our planet (our ONLY place to live, I might add) but it’s easy to shrug it off as our children’s problem. Or to rationalize current wants despite the consequences. But when you LOVE something you’ll be driven to protect it.

That is what I think a landscape photographer can be. They can be part of something bigger than a “pretty” or “gramable” shot. Photography can be a vehicle for change. So when I ask myself if I’m doing enough, I need to also think about the current political climate and policies, the attitudes towards keeping our planet healthy enough to sustain life, the voiceless who need help to retain their basic human rights and dignities…

Without question, I can do more. We all can do more.

This is Independence Pass in CO. And that is what night skies without much light pollution look like.😍

Personal Growth and Being Our Bsst Selves

14 Jun

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“Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”

This is, admittedly, not a photography post. It’s a post about life.

About a year and a half ago my life changed drastically. It was painful and difficult and left me in a rut. I needed something to get me going in the right direction. On a whim, I asked a few friends if they wanted to try salsa lessons. Note: I had two left feet, and the grace of a newborn foal. (Lots of legs and elbows going everywhere, with no coordination.) But I have always told myself we are our own biggest limitation, and so I set out to prove to myself that I could do this.

Fast forward 11 month later and I did something terrifying (for me). I got up on a stage and danced. Before the performance I was shaking and my heart was racing. But after months of practice, I knew I didn’t want to to let my fellow dancers down. I went out onto that stage and hoped that I would make them proud.

238DCC72-1156-47B3-9FF5-8500A5C433D6Trying something new and scary as an adult has been challenging but oh so rewarding. I’m so grateful to our teacher for believing in me enough to let me dance his choreographed routine, and for the patience and support he has shown me. I’m grateful to Melissa @melequine for her willingness to try new things with me and encourage me to grow. I’m grateful to Cricket , Sarah, David, Monica and Waldo for their friendship (along with all of the other rad people that I’ve met through dancing). And last but not least, I’m incredibly grateful for Jorge , the best dang dance partner a girl could ask for. You push me to be better in all things and forgive me when I step on your toes. 😋

FD098C90-1F14-46EC-8D6B-C88842B4ADE3Opportunities to grow are all around us, you just have to be open to them. Be brave, try new things, make beautiful memories and live your life to the fullest. In the end, we can’t keep the money or the cars or the stuff….but our experiences and the way we choose to live our lives will be with us forever. ❤️

Photos by Melissa Couture.

 

 

A Sliver of Hope :: Iceland

27 Feb
A Sliver of Hope :: Iceland

A Sliver of Hope :: Iceland

 

When we start out as landscape photographers, most of us probably don’t go into it realizing the weight of the responsibilities that come with it. You see, these days, every like, and double tap and +1 you get represents a responsibility to be a leader.

Part of that means being a good steward and protecting our collective “office”, the planet. There is a lot of debate about what exactly that means, but it benefits all of us -photographers and non- to embrace things like Leave No Trace, and to actively work to conserve our wild spaces.

The second part of this is to be a role model. Whether you like it or not, what you do and say makes an impact, and by choosing to break rules or ignore courtesy, you’re green-lighting that behavior for others. This shot is a particularly memorable example of how one person’s sense of entitlement/elitism, can ruin an experience. Last October Melissa and I decided to detour to see this beautiful canyon despite the rain. It involved a moderate, if somewhat slippery hike up to the first lookout. I had just set my tripod up and begun focusing my camera when a…let’s call him “gentleman”…. walked up and demanded I move so he could take a cell phone snap. I explained I had just set up my composition, and would be just a moment. Rather than wait politely, he put his arm directly into my frame, then crowded me on a slippery cliff-edge, to intimidate me into moving. If you know my friend Melissa, you know she doesn’t put up with rudeness and used it as a teachable moment to remind the gentleman of his manners. Lol

The outdoors are for everyone to enjoy and simple consideration and courtesy can go a long way towards helping everyone fall in love with (and subsequently see the value in protecting) nature.