Meet Our Partners: Back the Wild

We are so excited to have organizations partner with us in our movement to educate people about our principles and responsible nature photography. One of our recent partnerships is with Back the Wild,  a landscape photography marketplace where 100% of proceeds are donated to protect public lands and combat climate change, founded by Grady Lynch. I had a chance to sit down with Grady over a zoom call and interview him about what he is doing and why he thinks partnership with Nature First is important. 

*photo header by Grady Lynch

 Brynn:   Share a little bit about your background and what led you to start Back the Wild? 

Grady: It was kind of an idea that I developed over a longer period of time. I wanted to do something more with my images besides post them on Instagram and give a print away here or there as a gift. I felt like there was some way to use my photography to give back and have a positive impact. Since graduating from college, I have become so much more aware of important conservation issues and the human impact on climate change. I have become more vocal and active in these issues. I have become so much more passionate about these things as I spend most of my weekend in the mountains constantly exploring, hiking and taking photos. I really appreciate what a treasure our public lands are, open spaces are, and I kind of put the two together one day. I realized I was taking all these images on public lands and that is something almost all landscape photographers have in common. Not many people are taking amazing shots just in their backyard. The amazing vistas and panoramic prints you see on airport walls and in other places are shot on public land that we all share. 

I realized there was a real connection here and that really, we as landscape photographers, almost have a debt that we owe to public lands and the amazing places available to us. This is a way for photographers to donate to work going to protect our lands. So the vision I have developed is a phased approach where I want the result to be that landscape photographers could leverage our platform as a way for them to give back to the land that allows them to create their beautiful images. Obviously, I can’t launch this and have everyone get on board right away with this idea and I know it will be a lengthy process of generating awareness. I am starting with awareness, while I share my own images for sale with 100% of proceeds going to non-profit organizations working to protect our land and environment. I just started this about a year ago so I see it with a short-term approach and a long-term approach. I am hoping to start involving other photographers in 2021 and possibly feature a photographer per month on our site and social media. The goal would be that photographers donate a couple of their images for sale on the site for a month, but then also join us in spreading the message of Back the Wild. I believe that people who want a beautiful print on their wall and love nature can get behind the idea of purchasing some of these images in a way that gives back. 

Brynn: What is your favorite type of photography? I am assuming that it must be landscape from all the incredible images I have seen? 

Grady: Yes, I absolutely love landscape photography. It has been a little tough in the social media era where you see so many incredible images with the same composition on Instagram all the time. I am fine taking the same shot that so many others have taken, but I generally try to find a new angle or take on the shot that puts my own spin on it. I love finding new areas that I haven’t been to before or don’t know much about where I can create a really unique image or at least something that is totally new to me. I love discovering something where I can put all these elements together and draw people into an image and my love for nature. This is something that I love to do and have realized I am not going to make a living off of, but I want to do something more with it.

Canadian Rockies (5 shot pano, foreground taken during blue hour) by Grady Lynch

Brynn: I know that you give 100% of proceeds from your sales to NRDC and Protect our Winters (POW). Why did you pick these two organizations to start with for your donations? 

Grady: So, I did a lot of research and was already loosely familiar with these organizations and was striving to find some that lined up with what I was really trying to do. NRDC is super reputable organization whose goals and interests align with mine. I chose NRDC because they have a very low overhead, and I know most of the donations are not getting sucked up into a bureaucracy. They get very high ratings from organizations that rate non-profits and they are very active in many immediate causes that are protecting our lands and wildlife. It is something I am really proud to support even though we aren’t having a large financial impact yet. Protect Our Winters is an organization out of right here in Colorado that I think is really inspiring in how they are taking on climate change. Jeremy Jones is a fantastic athlete obviously, but an amazing activist as well. He has a gift at communicating and reaching out to people that I think the climate change movement needs. Bringing the aspect of winters and activities like skiing into the discussion, it allows for a broader audience to really hear the message of how these activities are being impacted. I think it makes it more of a real issue to show climate change in terms of winter sports instead of this huge, nebulous issue that is hard to comprehend sometimes. 

Brynn: So what led you to Nature First and partnering with us? 

Grady: I found you guys and have been following you on social media and love the way you have started a movement with principles such as Leave No Trace that I am a huge supporter of and then adding the extension of a photography perspective to this. It is just something that immediately resonated with me. I am personally seeing places getting loved to death and we have to protect the ecosystems there. An example of this was at Maroon Lake near Aspen where ropes have now been set up to keep everyone back from the fragile lakeshore, and yet about 30 photographers were on the other side of the ropes. If we, who look like we know what we are doing with our tripods and camera gear are breaking the rules, it leads to others thinking it is fine to do that also or questioning why we don’t care about the land we are photographing. We have to set an example for others to follow and I believe this movement is doing that. I also love the education component. I always struggle with whether I should say something or not, but Nature First really encourages us all to try and educate ourselves and others about doing the right thing through education and awareness. I am thrilled to be partnering with you all. I would just like to end with how thankful I am to have found your organization and partner with you, and I could not be more behind your mission and goals. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me.

Brynn:  Thanks so much Grady. It was so great to chat with you today about all that you are doing.  I would love to wrap this up by encouraging our members to check out Back the Wild and consider getting involved now by spreading awareness about the movement and, in 2021, potentially being a photographer of the month for them. I know I plan to. 

To keep up with Grady and Back the Wild, you can find him at:

Back the Wild

Grady Lynch, traveling through Iceland with his girlfriend, Allie