9 Ways Photographers Can Promote Sustainability

Photography is more than an enjoyable hobby or career; it can also shed light on important global issues. Sustainability is one particular cause she can help with.

As a photographer, you can do a lot to promote a better future for the planet. This guide will highlight nine things you can do to contribute to this movement.

1. Buy used equipment

black polaroid instant camera surrounded by film

When you’re getting ready to buy a new camera or lens, it’s tempting to go for the brand new versions. However, you need to think about the potential impact if you do; buying a new camera will cause more resources to be used and waste to be generated.

Buying used ensures that something that works well won’t go to waste. Minus maybe a few scratches and dents, you probably won’t notice the difference. Getting used cameras and lenses will also help you save some money.

Nowadays, you will find many websites to buy used photography equipment. Some of the best include BPM and KEH camera.

2. Visit less touristy areas

Photo of a tourist in Iceland

International travel is not as exclusive as it once was, which has many advantages. However, frequently visited areas often feel the pressure of dealing with an excess of people.

It’s easy to think that this is a problem that only affects less economically developed countries, but that’s not the case. Take the example of Iceland; in 2018, more than two million people spent the night in the country. In that year, the country’s population was just over 350,000.


More people in the same place can cause irreversible damage to the natural landscape, as well as noise, air and land pollution. You can help limit this tension by taking paths less traveled in the country you plan to visit or by going elsewhere.

instagram reel feed preview

Let’s face it, some destinations deserve the tourist attention they receive. But even if you choose to visit them, you can still promote sustainability as a photographer.

One of the easiest ways to ensure places don’t get overrun is to refrain from tagging exact locations on social media. Instead of adding the exact name of the street or area you visited, consider marking the country or state.

Related: How to remove location data when sharing photos from your iPhone

4. Document the consequences of not taking care of the planet

Photo of a photographer using his camera

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, photography has been a powerful tool for highlighting essential talking points and triggering action. And even if you’re not a professional, you can do your part to promote a more sustainable future.

If you see things like plastic harming wildlife or trash marring landscapes, capture and share what you find. Sometimes people need to see the consequences of their actions before they change their ways.

5. Travel less often

Photo of a FinnAir plane at the airport

Travel photography is one of the most enjoyable genres, but it goes without saying that taking regular flights can increase your carbon footprint more than necessary.

While you shouldn’t cut travel out of your life entirely, you should think more carefully about how you do it. Flying every other week is not only bad for the environment in the long run, it also reduces the quality of your travels.

An alternative approach to frequent travel is to choose a place you would really like to visit and save what you would have spent on other trips. This way, you’ll have a more enjoyable journey where you can focus on capturing the experiences that really matter to you.

In the meantime, don’t overlook your hometown as a great place for photography. More often than not, you will find many hidden gems not far from your home. You could also stand out by specializing in your region, which will make it easier to attract an audience.

Related: The benefits of photographing your hometown

6. Buy better quality gear

Photo of a FujiFilm camera on a desk

Once you’ve purchased your camera and lenses, you’ll likely need additional gear to protect them (and yourself) while shooting. Camera bags and covers, plus clothing to keep you warm and dry, it all adds up.

It’s tempting to go for the cheaper options, but you have to remember that these are often not the best quality. A $20 coat may seem like a good investment, but you’ll need to replace it much more frequently. As such, you will produce more waste and spend more money than if you had bought something a little more expensive but of better quality.

If you can’t afford more durable equipment right now, set up a savings plan and try to stick to it. That way, you’ll get what you need without having to sacrifice monthly essentials.

7. Don’t ignore instructions

Do not enter sign

When shooting in the wild, you may find signs warning you not to venture into particular terrain. No one is trying to spoil your adventure; the signs are there for a reason.

If you see that you don’t have to cross a fence or follow a specific route, look for an alternative where you are allowed to go. Besides protecting flora and fauna, these could also be there for your own safety.

8. Share your tips with others

Two photographers at sunset

It’s easy to complain about the impact people can have on the planet. However, ranting without providing helpful advice isn’t beneficial to anyone, and it’s an easy way to alienate others instead of getting them to join your cause.

As you gain experience in photography, share your sustainability tips with others. Sometimes people may want to make a change but don’t know the steps to follow.

9. Buy only what you need

Photo of three camera lenses

These days, we’re bombarded with examples of other creators living their best lives. And if you see your favorite photographers with high-end gear, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need it too.

But what works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to do the same for you. If you don’t need a certain lens or camera, don’t buy it. All you’re doing is wasting money unnecessarily and adding clutter.

By adopting a minimalist approach to photographic equipment, you will use fewer natural resources. In addition, traveling with your belongings will become much easier.

Photographers can lead the way to a more sustainable future

Photographers have more power than they often realize, and their actions can help change the world. When it comes to sustainability, there is a lot you can do, especially in terms of travel habits and gear buying approach. By refining what you do, you can influence others to do the same.

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