7 Ways To Make Your Photography Eco-Friendly

A few months ago I wrote 5 Ways A Photographer Can Go Green and gave you some great tips for getting started on becoming more efficient in what you do. ecofriendly photography

Going green has been the big push for 2009, with no stops in the foreseeable future. So I thought I would continue on with that list, and add 7 more things you can do with your photography business to turn it into an eco-friendly studio.

1. Recycle. The easiest way to get started is by recycling everything you have. The largest waste a studio will have is paper; buy a recycling bin and put all your paper there instead of the trashcan. It requires about two thirds less energy to make a ton of paper from recycled paper instead of using wood pulp from trees. Recycle your ink cartridges from your printers, refilling when possible. Also find places that will recycle or refurbish your old electronics and photographic equipment when you move onto newer items.

2. Conserve energy. Andrew and I have a home office, and for most of the day, we’re in one small section of our home. Instead of heating the entire house, we keep it at a low 62 degrees, and use a space heater to heat the room we use. There are many things you can do like this. Replace all of your light bulbs with eco-friendly ones. Keep the thermostat down a degree or two in the winter, up a degree or two in the summer. Also keep lights, equipment, and computers off unless you’ll be using them.

3. Stay unplugged. Most of us have power strips and power cords plugged in all over our office and home. With computers, iPods, camera equipment and phones, it seems like we have to be plugged in all the time. Instead of leaving the chargers plugged in all the time, only plug them in when charging. Not only can this save you money from electrical use, but it will also help keep CO2 out of the atmosphere.

4. Stop using film. I’m always amazed at the number of photographers still using film when I do surveys and polls. If you haven’t made the switch to digital, here’s one more reason to give you a push in the digital direction. Film takes chemicals to produce, and energy to move from you to the lab and back again.

5. Watch what chemicals you use for processing. More companies are concentrating on creating chemicals less harmful to the environment. Search out these companies and use them for your processing and printing. SilverGrain produces chemicals that have low toxins, are easy to use, and are environmentally friendly. You can purchase them at a variety of places, both online and brick & mortar.

6. Seek out environmentally friendly products. When you visit your favorite lab, art store or paper company, ask for earth friendly options. The more companies sell eco-friendly materials, the more they will stock.

7. Let people know. While many of us turn “green” because we have the desire, it’s okay as a company to let others know what you are doing. If you are out looking for green companies to do business with, share the same idea with your prospects and customers. Advertise that you are a green photographer. Teach potential clients what it means to be green. The more they learn; the more they’ll ask about it at your competitors. Which will only help the cause even more.

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4 thoughts on “7 Ways To Make Your Photography Eco-Friendly”

  1. Item 4 is nonsense. Silicon fabrication as is used for the processing chips and sensors of digital cameras involves extremely toxic processes, and uses immense amounts of energy and water (yes, water). Digital cameras become obsolete (or outright break) in just a few years, requiring replacement and thus a newly manufactured object along with all of the accompanying externalized costs. Especially for a casual shooter, I’d be very surprised if the balance of costs came out anywhere near in favor of digital.

    By contrast, there are very few new film cameras being made these days. Decent film cameras and lenses last for many, many decades with minor periodic maintenance. Film users overwhelmingly tend to be using equipment that was manufactured some time ago, even when “upgrading”. This is reuse that the digital world doesn’t even dream of. Formerly high-end film setups are selling for a song, meaning that one can achieve great image quality while reusing existing bodies and lenses. The working model of film, especially black and white work, can also be very educational to the digital-only shooter. The process of working with film teaches skills that improve one’s film and digital work. I’d liken this to cross-training in athletics, but here the cross is between different photographic media which afford different approaches.

    As for film “using chemicals”, modern film chemicals (e.g. Silvergrain, as you mention, and many others more mundane), tend to be considerably less toxic than the cleaning products kept under most folks’ sinks. The only serious “problem” chemical is the fixer, which accumulates silver compounds from the developed film. Fortunately, these silver compounds are easily reclaimed and reused by any lab facility. Likewise, this is easy to do for the hobbyist either via dropping off spent fixer at a lab in his or her area, or via inexpensive silver collectors available to the home user. In either approach, the silver is recycled for further use. The other chemicals used in film processing are generally safe for normal water treatment processes. There are some other chemicals used in exotic processes which are decidedly not safe, but the learning curve alone means that these users tend to be very specialized workers who are keenly aware of proper handling and disposal practices.

    Note, I’m not at all against digital, but the idea that quitting film use is somehow “good for the environment” compared to digital is a false dream brought on by our disconnect from the real end-to-end costs of manufactured goods.

  2. I disagree that there is much of a difference between film cameras and digital cameras as far as manufacturing. The sensor and processor in a digital camera can be an issue, but film cameras these days are filled with technology and are still considered e-waste. There are computer chips that control auto focus, exposure, timers, flash, etc.

    The big difference is that there are far less trees being cut down as people display photos online. Less developing/processing chemicals are making their way into our water supply. People who still use chemicals are far more trained in the safe handling of the materials.

    What if everyone who had a digital camera or camera phone had to have chemicals to develop their pictures? Digital is keeping all that mess out of the environment and encouraging many more people to get into photography who otherwise wouldn’t be able to because of the prohibitive chemicals. Digital photography has revolutionized how we enjoy and remember the moments in our lives.

    If you enjoy being a more eco-friendly photographer, check out: http://CertifiedGreenPhotographer.com

    There you will find several sections of tips and tutorials on how to be a greener photographer, as well as a detailed certification program for photographers who want to show their customers they are working hard to be more eco-friendly.


  3. ReBinder has aligned themselves with Greener Photography Members to provide some unique recycled products to brand you message. All of our products are made of recycled cardboard and FSC Ceritifed Chipboard. From binders to presentation folders and CD Cases.


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