2020 Autumn Newsletter

Golden aspen leaves, bugling elk and the first snowfalls are all part of autumn here in Colorado. It’s a busy season for landscape photographers in this part of the world. I recently visited a beautiful valley in southwestern Colorado and everywhere you looked there were photographers with their tripods. In so many of the conversations I had, Nature First was a topic of discussion. Photographers are paying more attention to reducing their impact. We’re also seeing articles by well-known photographers such as John Sexton and William Neil promoting Nature First. Slowly, this movement is gaining momentum among photographers not only in the United States but in places like Argentina, China, Chile, Slovenia, Romania, the United Kingdom, etc.. It is slowly becoming a worldwide movement thanks to you and your enthusiastic sharing of the Nature First values and principles.


Nature First promotes the protection and preservation of the world’s natural and wild places through inspiring, educating, and uniting everyone making photographs and videos in nature; empowering them to be ambassadors of the natural world.


We’re excited to finally announce that the Nature First Partnership Program is up and running. This program is for organizations that want to help protect the natural world by promoting responsible nature photography. This partnership program is designed for nearly any type of organization from photo workshops and tour companies, to festivals, conferences, equipment manufacturers and environmental organizations. If your organization is involved in the natural world and photography or even just uses nature photos, then this is open to you. It is a way for you to help demonstrate your organization’s commitment to caring for nature.

We have two different levels of partnership and will later introduce a third. Each level shows an increasing commitment to the mission of Nature First. Our entry level partnership is the Bronze Partner. Partners at this level have a commitment to environmental responsibility and agree to help us promote the Nature First principles through their networks. They become a vital means of helping to spread this movement. 

Our Silver Partners not only help to spread the word through their networks but also commit to follow the Responsible Nature Photography Standard. This involves a commitment to only use nature photos from photographers who are Nature First members (those committed to following Nature First principles). For those that are involved in education, it also involves a commitment to integrate Nature First teaching into their programs. For this level, we ask a lot of questions and try to verify how the organization will implement their commitment, before they are accepted. 

Eventually, we hope to have a gold level which will involve a photographer certification program & organizational auditing process. 

There is no cost to become a partner. In the future we hope to roll-out a sponsorship program to help fund Nature First, but this will be separate from our partnership or membership programs. If you are interested in learning more or in becoming a partner, write to us at: info@naturefirst.org.


We’re beginning a new series here at Nature First to help you get to know some of the people who are working behind the scenes. Nearly all of our volunteers are extremely talented photographers. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know them. This first interview is with an amazing photographer and leader of our Community Advocate program: Kristel Schneider. The interview was conducted by another award winning photographer: Jennifer Renwick.

Jennifer: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get into nature photography? 

Kristel:  I was born in The Netherlands and lived a big part of my adult life in Amsterdam. I studied Human Resource Management and Communication and worked the last six years of my other professional career as a Communication Adviser for a Pharmaceutical Company. My photography back then was mainly ‘street-photography.’ This all changed when I started taking painting classes in Amsterdam, my hometown. Unfortunately, I soon realized that I could not draw very well, and let’s say I became an abstract painter very fast. The good thing about it was that it had a big influence on my photography. I started looking at other subjects, more in detail and I became drawn to structures and textures. Call it the seeding moment of my abstract photography. The moment that changed everything in my life, and as a consequence, my photography too, was when I moved from the Netherlands to France, from the big city to the countryside. The year I became forty, I decided to give up my communication job to focus totally on my passion: photography. After two years, I became a fulltime art & nature photographer and workshops/photo tours instructor. I was fortunate to see my work published and to be able to present my work all over Europe and even further. Even in difficult times like this, I never regret taking that decision to ‘change my life’. 

You can read the full interview with Kristel and see some of her inspiring photography here.


As Nature First continues to grow, so does the Nature First team. We currently have over 30 people from across the globe volunteering their time to help advance this mission. While you may only see an occasional newsletter or post on social media, there is a lot happening behind the scenes as we try to build a global movement to advance the mission of responsible nature photography. As we grow, we continue to need additional help. If you want to join the team, here are some of the needs we currently have.

  • Partnership Program Coordinator: As you’ve read above, we’ve just rolled out our new partnership program. Promoting this program and communicating with all the applicants and vetting them is a big job. We’d like to bring on someone who can serve in this role and oversee the operation of our partnership program. If you have great communication skills and experience in working with organizations large and small, then please contact us.

  • Community Advocate: Our community advocate program is at the heart of what we do at Nature First. We’re building communities of people around the planet who are committed to responsible nature photography. These communities help to spread the vision and values in their nation. So far we have active communities in 23 areas around the globe, but that means that there are a lot of nations and regions where we still have no one to help create a local community to promote these values. If you are from one of the nations without an active Nature First community and you would like to help start one, please get in touch with us.

To apply to be part of the ambassador team, please contact us, and we will set up an interview with you to see if you are the right fit for one of these areas.


We’ve all seen it, beautiful places that we know and love have been badly damaged by over-visitation and abuse. Yet few of us ever think to get photos showing the changes that have taken place. We at Nature First are looking for “before and after” photos that demonstrate the impact we’re having on our world’s wild and natural places. If you have good before and after photos that you would be willing to let us use to educate others, please send them to info@naturefirst.org along with a note stating that you give us permission to use these photos. Thanks! We really appreciate it!


We’re very appreciative of your participation in this movement. Because you have been helping to spread this message we are hearing more and more people in increasingly diverse places talking about Nature First and its principles. Together we are making progress in changing attitudes and reducing our negative impacts on the nature world. Let’s keep this forward momentum going.

Erik Stensland – Managing Director