PhotoHounders are champions of wildlife, nature and all the wonders of this planet. When we say we photograph with our world in mind, it’s not just words. Join us in taking steps to ensure that photography promotes and records the joys of our surroundings rather than causing any unintentional damage.
We always follow the PhotoHound Code when we shoot and ask PhotoHounders to do the same.
These are the principles we photograph by.
We think about others
We know and follow the rules and regulations
We cherish our surroundings
Every time we take a shot, we are mindful of the environment and the impact we have on our surroundings. We are always aware of what is around us; our environment, the nature, birds and wildlife, the flora and fauna as well as cultural heritage. The actions of even just one photographer count, so we make sure we think about what we leave behind as well as the image we take away and act as role models for other photographers we meet along the way.
Here are some ways we make sure we take care of our surroundings:
- If you know you are heading to a fragile spot, think hard about whether you should continue. No photograph is worth damaging the environment.
- Take care not to damage flowers and nature – tread carefully; don’t trample on or pick wild flowers and take care where you place your tripod.
- Don’t break branches or ‘clean’ the natural scene to get your shot. Instead, move around and find a better angle that works.
- Prevent damage to crops by walking around the edge of a field unless there is an existing path across it.
- Avoid fields where there are animals, as your presence may cause them stress and endanger your own safety.
- Avoid unnecessary noise which might spook wildlife or farm animals.
- Think about the wildlife whose habitat you might be sharing. Always keep a safe distance from wild animals and use a telephoto lens. Never feed the animals or try to lure them closer, rather observe and photograph their natural behaviours in their usual habitat.
- Avoid locations where there are nesting birds as even getting close can disturb them. Some birds nest on the ground and you may inadvertently step on them causing irreparable damage. The same goes for areas where frogs are breeding.
- Take your litter home and recycle whatever you can. Go one step further even and pick up litter left by thoughtless visitors.
We Think About Others
We respect other people we meet on our travels, whether they are local people going about their daily lives, or photographers and visitors like us. We travel with an open mind and leave any sense of ego behind. We try never to be voyeuristic, thoughtless or selfish and always respect people, their traditions, cultures, religious views and morals. We always question our motivation for taking this shot – are my intentions positive? Will I help or cause unnecessary hurt by hitting the shutter button? If I feel uncomfortable taking this shot, is there good reason to continue?
Here are some things that help us think about our relationship with others as we shoot:
- Never disturb people going about their daily lives; respect prayer times, religious services and traditions as well as traders at work.
- Make positive connections with local people; ask permission first – don’t treat them as a side-show. Be particularly careful if photographing children and seek the parent’s agreement wherever possible.
- Give back rather than just take a shot – for example consider buying something from a trader for a fair price, offer to send a copy of the photo and make sure you follow up on your promise. A conversation, learning something about each other’s way of life or coming away knowing more than before you took the photograph, can be just as valuable an interaction.
- Take your turn and don’t step in front of other photographers, you don’t own the spot and your shot is no more important or worthy than anyone else who’s come there to enjoy some photography time.
- Be considerate of others trying to get a shot. Spend a reasonable amount of time getting the image you want, then take a step back and let someone else have a try.
- Reflect on possible consequences before posting images on social media. What impact might your image have on the community or location? Could your image be perceived as exploiting or perpetuating unhelpful stereotypes? Question your motive for posting any image before you hit ‘share’.
We Know And Follow The Rules & Regulations
Being aware of and following the rules and regulations as we shoot is what keeps us safe as well as helping us to model responsible behaviours. Tempting as it might be to hop over the fence, nip into someone’s garden for a second, or step off the path, if we take the approach that just once won’t hurt, in doing so we become part of a snowball effect where others think it’s ok to follow suit and now we’re part of a negative cycle of potentially damaging behaviour. No shot is worth injury to oneself or others, nor would it justify damage to property or the environment.
Here are some of the ways we ensure we stay safe, respect the environment and maintain integrity as we shoot:
- Warning signs are there for a reason – follow all safety guidelines.
- Stay on trails and marked pathways and obey all posted signs.
- Respect boundaries – don’t step over fences or railings.
- Ensure you are properly prepared and equipped for your travels – Research your destination make sure you know what to expect (PhotoHound can definitely help with this!), wear shoes and clothing suited to the terrain and climate you are travelling, have sufficient food and water supplies with you if your location is remote.
- Ensure you notify at least one other person of your itinerary if travelling alone, but ideally travel and photograph with a companion where safety could be an issue.
- Don’t trespass on private land or properties.
- Don’t use tripods where prohibited. Respect the fact that they are not allowed for a reason; this could be for safety, to protect commercial interests, to prevent congestion or to protect fragile ground. If you think there may be some flexibility in the rules (ie perhaps it’s a particularly quiet time, or your shot is not of a commercial nature), it’s always worth asking an official, but don’t assume.
- Only use drones where permitted. Each country has a strict set of guidelines relating to the safe flying of drones. Be sure to do your research before setting off and make certain that you are within a safe fly zone. Plan ahead as you may need to complete a permission to fly application, especially if your photography is for commercial purposes.
- Respect signs that indicate that photography is not allowed (in museums or churches for example). Make sure you obtain the necessary permissions or signed release forms for identifiable buildings that require them.
Let’s never lose sight of our responsibility to the environment and the world around us as we travel and photograph. No shot is worth risking damage to ourselves or the environment, or causing hurt to others.
Sometimes it’s good to take a breath, put down the camera and just take it all in with our eyes before we think of lifting the lens. Appreciate the scene around you rather than envisaging the ‘likes’ you might get from this shot.
Let’s always enjoy our photography, but let’s always use our common sense and come back to these three principles every time we shoot.