Environmentally conscious living is no longer just something hippies and nature buffs are into. Everyone these days is looking for additional ways to shrink their carbon footprint, honor Mother Earth, and preserve the planet for the generations to come.

Artists like landscape photographers are certainly no exception. Without the beautiful settings and locations we shoot, we quite literally wouldn’t be who we are or be able to do what we do. Here are some ways you can integrate environmentally responsibility into your own shoots.

Choose Preservation Over Getting the Shot

We all know how frustrating it can be to have a shot lined up that would be absolutely perfect… were it not for that branch or clump of vegetation that’s in the way. Avoid the temptation to simply destroy whatever it is just to nail a given shot. Environmentally responsible photography shouldn’t knowingly leave a scar on the scenes it captures.

Leave Everything Where You Found It

When you conclude a truly memorable trip to an astonishing area, it’s only natural to want a souvenir to remember it by. After all, that bird’s nest or colorful rock would look awesome on your mantelpiece, right? The responsible, earth-conscious thing to do is actually to leave what you find exactly where you found it. Let the gorgeous shots you got of the area be souvenir enough.

Leave Nothing Behind

Just as you should be taking nothing with you when you leave the scene of your shoot, you should be leaving behind no tangible evidence of having been there. Remove any and all rubbish, waste, and trash from the area when you leave. If there are no waste receptacles nearby, take it with you and hold onto it until you can dispose of it properly. This goes double for items that are non-biodegradable such as used camera batteries, food wrappers, and beverage containers.

Always Obey Posted Instructions

If you visit a natural area and there is signage posted, you can trust that it’s for a good reason. Areas may be roped off to stop erosion or deterioration of a site. Certain locations may forbid flash photography to help preserve indigenous art or historically significant features. Of course it’s tempting to ignore instructions like these when you see an opportunity to get a really sweet shot, but it’s important not to. What if everyone did that? It wouldn’t be long before that location was no longer as well preserved as it is.

Never Disturb Wildlife

While it’s fine and even advisable to film or shoot wildlife from a distance, it’s important to make sure you’re not invading an animal’s territory or causing it any distress. Animals and birds deserve to be respected, so environmentally responsible photographers interfere with them to the smallest extent possible.

Go Rechargeable

Rechargeable batteries don’t just save photographers a fortune in money and hassle over time. They’re better choices from an environmentally conscious standpoint as well. If you’re still shooting with a camera that uses standard batteries, make the switch to rechargeable alternatives sooner rather than later. Just think of how many fewer old batteries could wind up sitting in a landfill because of even one person’s decision to make this simple switch.

So many of us landscape photographers got started with what we do in the first place when we fell in love with the sublime beauty of nature. Let’s stay true to that spirit by doing what we can to respect, preserve, and protect it as well.