Since today is Earth Day, I thought it was appropriate to discuss our part on how to make the Earth a better place for all of us to live. is the world’s largest environmental movement, and today, April 22, 2019, is the 49th Earth Day. It’s also the start of a new photographic group, Nature First at Nature First put forth a set of best practices for nature photographers with the idea of placing the well-being of nature ahead of one’s photography. logo logo

Nature First Photography

Nature First describes themselves as an association of photographers who are committed to responsible nature photography. They present a set of best practices for nature photographers. The practices are centered on the idea of putting the well-being of nature ahead of one’s photography. These practices are similar to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics seven principles which espouse a set of outdoor ethics. A mass of humanity overruns Mesa Arch for the sunrise.
A mass of humanity overruns Mesa Arch for the sunrise. The area looks big in this photo, but it’s pretty small, especially when spacing is shoulder to shoulder. Oh, and i’m guilty of this. I’ve been one of those people in the past… Photo courtesy

Nature First’s Seven Principles

Nature First also has a set of seven principles, designed for both hobbyist and professional photographers. The goal is to help preserve nature and encourage all nature photographers to be mindful that their photography has consequences. The principles are as follows:

  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.

These seven principles are simple, yet Nature First points out that they “contain a great deal of depth.” For a more in-depth discussion, check out this page, Nature First Principles.

A photographer tramples a delicate area. Photo courtesy
A photographer tramples a delicate area. Please don’t be that person.
Photo courtesy

Join Nature First

You can join Nature First for free. All it just takes is signing up and then responding to a confirmation email. There are no fees, no spam, no advertising, no meetings, and no requirements for you to “sell” or promote. Nature first states they will never sell or share your email with anyone.

Nature First members receive several benefits. You can add yourself to the Members page, receive a newsletter about happenings and community events, gain access to logos and designs for Nature First merchandise, and you get to be part of a movement that will make a difference.

Help Spread the Word

You can spread the word about the Nature First Principles by using #naturefirst when posting about nature photography on social media. Nature First also suggests adding a personal statement to your website to show your dedication to following the seven principles. Photographer crosses the line.
Photographers crossing the “No Tresspassing” sign.

I Joined

I’ve long concerned myself with many of the issues that come with landscape and nature photography. I’m glad someone has finally taken the initiative to organize an ethos that addresses many of my concerns. Nature First put them into a cohesive, but simple structure. Their website is a great resource that I can use to show others the direction that, I think we as nature photographers, need to go.

I hope you’ll consider joining as well.

And Happy Earth Day!

Kirk Keyes