Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT’S THE CATCH?
No catch. Period. There are no fees, no spam, no advertising, no meetings, and no requirements to “sell” or promote to others. This is an opportunity to make a declaration of your commitment to care for our wild places by practicing the Nature First principles, and know that you are a part of the movement.
WHO CAN BE A MEMBER?
This alliance is for anyone who does photography in the natural world whether they be professional nature photographers, wildlife photographers, workshop leaders, Instagram photographers, portrait or wedding photographers who shoot outside, or any individual who shoots in the natural world for a hobby. If you photograph in the natural world, then you qualify.
If you are an organization, magazine, company, or other entity that wants to commit themselves to a more nature aware approach to the photos that you use, you can also join us as a “partner organization”. We’d love to see many organizations join on board with this initiative and help us preserve our natural world though responsible nature photography.
WHAT’S REQUIRED TO JOIN?
Nothing more than your commitment to the Nature First Principles. We’re inclusive. We understand that not everyone wants to be an outspoken advocate, posting on social media and speaking at public events. Nature First fully appreciates our quiet colleagues who demonstrate their commitment to the principles through their simple day-to-day actions. If that’s you, you’re in! Of course, if you’re the type who wants to share it with your friends and followers to spread the word. We love that too! #naturefirst
And if you really want the world to know, make a statement by joining our alliance page. Nothing says it better than putting your name and photo on it…
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURE FIRST AND LEAVE NO TRACE?
Leave No Trace is a fantastic organization that has been advocating for decades the importance of low impact recreation in nature. We have a similar aim… but for nature photographers, of all levels. With the rise of the internet and social media, more and more people are visiting nature and taking photographs. With a just little knowledge and care, we can all greatly minimize our impact. You can read more about this topic at Why Nature First?
IS THIS AN AMERICAN ORGANIZATION?
While this movement is beginning in the United States, we do not want it to have a US focus. The hope is that this becomes a world-wide movement filled with photographers from across our globe. The problems we are trying to address can be found from Norway to Antarctica and so we hope for very active participation from every part of this planet.
ARE WE IN COMPETITION WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHY ORGANIZATIONS?
What we are starting here is an informal movement that should not compete with any organization. If you are a part of Nature Photographers Network, the North American Nature Photographers Association, a camera club or another organization your participation in this alliance does not compete with or affect your relationship to these organizations. In fact, we are encouraging all photo related organizations to adopt these principles and join us as partner organizations.
I DON’T HAVE 50,000 FOLLOWERS. HOW CAN I HELP?
Most of us don’t! But every little bit helps. Each individual living by the Nature First Principles sets an example for those around them, and those who come after them. And if you share your passion for the Nature First movement on your social media accounts, even if it’s with just your family and friends, they will know you care. And maybe, hopefully, they will learn from you what it means to be responsible when visiting and enjoying nature. Each of us reaching out and influencing the behavior of just a few can make a difference, because they’ll tell 2 friends, and so on. #naturefirst
WHAT’S THE HARM IN SHARING LOCATIONS?
Sharing location information can have significant consequences for that location. As soon as a place is determined to be photogenic, it becomes a magnet for photographers and the general public. This is especially true if exceptional, seasonal or climatic conditions are increasing the draw. So if you share locations, you should be cognizant that you will very likely be contributing to the increased impact on that natural area.
We understand that locations cannot be kept “secret.” Anyone with the internet and determination can usually find a location. But there is a huge difference in the number of people who are willing to spend the time researching (and hopefully learning about a location) and those just driving to an exact location provided in a post along with an image.
We expect each individual to use their best judgement on the sensitivity of particular locations and how much detail about the location they ought to share.
WHAT CAN I DO WHEN I SEE BAD BEHAVIOR, FIRST HAND, OR HEAR ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET?
If the behavior is clearly in violation of the law or rules and regulations, we encourage you to document the incident (you’ve got a camera with you, right?) and report it to officials. Let the professionals handle the enforcement. Beyond that, your response is very much up to you. But we have some recommendations…
Make sure you have the facts, not just hearsay or internet squabbling. False or embellished accusations can do more harm than good.
If you feel safe confronting the individual(s) in the moment, or afterwards via email or messaging, reach out to the them privately, in person. We recommend a helpful, educational approach leveraging the Nature First Principles, instead of sounding authoritarian or enforcing. In other words, give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are simply unaware of the impact of their irresponsible behavior. People are much more likely to respond positively to private criticism (even if you never see or realize the change in their behavior). Publicly calling out an individual on social media will likely result in denial, deflection, rebuttal, and/or retaliation. We’ve all seen it. And it generally does not lead to a positive outcome.
Leverage the nature photography community! You can make a difference by discussing bad behavior using a constructive dialog and conversation.
WHAT WILL THE NATURE FIRST ORGANIZATION DO WHEN THEY LEARN ABOUT IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR?
This question can be broken down into two parts; official partners not upholding the Nature First Principles, and individuals (perhaps even Nature First members) demonstrating irresponsible behavior…
Nature First has formal agreements with our official partners – from large corporations to small business workshop leaders, education providers, and gallery consortiums. The agreement details expectations of supporting and upholding the Nature First Principles. If a partner organization stops meeting those expectations, the partnership will be revoked. Pretty simple.
Responding to reported bad behavior of an individual, or a Nature First member, is not so simple… The primary goal of Nature First is to be an advocate for the Nature First Principles, educate and promote responsible nature photography. We do not have formal agreements with each individual member – rather, individuals pledge their commitment to the Nature First Principles when they sign up. We hope that everyone will do their best to honor that pledge. But each individual is different. They are at different points in their journey, learning how to be a responsible nature photographer. Each individual may interpret various situations in a different ways. And even the best of us can be careless in the excitement of the moment, or simply not know about the sensitivity of the area. The Nature First Principles should serve as our reminders.
Nature First believes that these incidents of bad behavior are an opportunity to educate and help individuals learn more about responsible nature photography, not call them out, or shame them. Ostracizing individuals and removing them from the Nature First member list would only server to shut them out – possibly forever. We’d prefer that they learn from their mistakes and act on that knowledge next time they are in the field.
Nature First will not, and can not, police the irresponsible actions of individuals. That is not our goal. The Nature First Principles are self evident guidelines meant to apply to all situations, and allow for each individual to interpret responsible behavior in the moment. They are intentionally not written as specific rules. But we can not act as enforcement. We simply do not have the resources to investigate and corroborate reports of infractions. And we don’t believe we’re qualified to serve judgement – how could we possibly ensure fairness and lack of bias in every situation?
Let’s work together to help spread the word and include more people in the Nature First movement, instead of judging, ostracizing and excluding.
HOW DOES NATURE FIRST ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE?
The Nature First Principles themselves are guidelines, and do not include specific examples of the impacts we have on nature. That is why they do not explicitly mention climate change (or stepping on flowers). But one can easily apply the Nature First Principles to the example of climate change. The very first principle is, “Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.” One should certainly think about the impact of the carbon footprint they have while pursuing photography. On one end of the spectrum, you could make an argument that just about anything you do with your photography has an impact on climate change. But that is true with just about every activity of day-to-day life. So how can we, as nature photographers, MINIMIZE that impact? Does using our photography to help educate and preserve the natural world help balance the impact of the carbon footprint created by traveling to the location? Each responsible nature photographer/videographer has the opportunity to engage with many people (a multiplier effect) to make wide-ranging, positive impact as an ambassador for nature.
Reflect on your common activities (driving, flying, general consumption and way of life) and use online tools, such as greenhouse gas equivalencies and the carbon calculator, to learn more about your own personal carbon footprint.
Identify ways you can reduce your personal carbon footprint.
WHAT IS NATURE FIRST’S POSITION ON THE USE OF NFTS IN NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY?
Read the full article, Nature First and NFTs published August 13, 2021
Is it ethical for nature photographers to create and sell NFTs for income? The guidance from Nature First is very much related to our thoughts on nature photography and climate change (see above FAQ). All nature photographers should take responsibility for learning about the environmental impact of their actions, and carefully consider how they can limit and reduce their own individual impact. So, educate yourself.
Get involved with discussions about NFTs and their environmental impact, like this F-Stop Collaborate and Listen podcast (available August 25, 2021) by our co-founder Matt Payne.
Take a look at the greenhouse gas equivalencies or carbon calculator for some of your common activities (driving, flying, general consumption and way of life) to learn more about your carbon footprint.
Before entering the NFT space, consider waiting until Ethereum migrates to a proof-of-stake model (which may be happening in 2022), which utilizes significantly less energy than the current proof-of-work model. Find more on what differentiates these models here.
Consider minting your NFTs using a non-Etherum blockchain which have a carbon footprint estimated to be 1.5 million times smaller.
For those of you who create and sell NTFs, have a look at carbon.fyi to calculate your carbon impact.
Consider offsetting your NFT-derived carbon impacts by reducing your carbon footprint in other areas of your life.
Consider donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of NFTs to climate or environmental non-profits.
Bring attention to the carbon impact of your actions and openly discuss how you are significantly reducing your carbon footprint in other ways.
These are just a few of the resources available that our members have brought to our attention.
It’s your responsibility to educate yourself to help make informed decisions about the activities you participate in, their associated carbon footprint and the steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact. Know and realize that others’ circumstances may be different and they may make different decisions. Respect those differences and engage those photographers in honest, meaningful conversation to learn even more. The continuing dialog in the nature photography community can help us all make better informed decisions to put nature first.