Sometimes the best thing you can do iis to not take the shot. What I am talking about today is being an ethical wildlife photographer.
I once heard a definition of what ethics are, and it has stuck with me. it went something like; “Ethics are what you do when no one is looking, or when no one will find out what you did.”
Just by being out in nature with a camera, or even just hiking, we will leave an impact. To me, being ethical is trying to minimize this impact as much as possible.
On the beaten path:
be respectful of the land. Many areas where we photograph are sensitive to the footprints we leave. If there is a defined trail system, then please stick to the trail to avoid damaging fragile areas.
It is also important to respect the rights of the landowner and to get permission from them before entering their land to take an image. I’m only taking a picture is not a legal defense for trespassing. I have never had a landowner refuse me permission, and usually they know a better location then the one I saw from the road.
Not a lunch date:
The fastest way to remove the wild from wildlife is to offer food so we can get a photo. Yellowstone National Park’s website plainly states: “A fed animal is a dead animal—good or bad, the Park Service will destroy animals that are habituated to human contact and food.”
Predators such as foxes, coyotes, wolves, bears, owls, and other raptors learn rapidly to associate humans with food. They may get comfortable approaching humans for food, and this commonly ends in the death of the animal. No picture is worth that.
I am not your maid:
It always surprises, and upsets me on the amount of garbage left behind by those that “love” nature. Please, if you are out enjoying a natural habitat, don’t litter, and if you come across something that someone has left behind, pick it up. I am often in areas that would only be visited only by those willing to put in some effort, and can’t remember the last time I didn’t find some garbage.
Not a game of tag:
Sometimes it’s hard to tell when close becomes to close, but when the animal or bird actually changes its behaviour and moves away from you, it is a clear sign that you are to close. The best way to get close to an animal is to let it come to you. Know your subject’s behaviours, use a blind, or hide and let it continue with its normal behaviour patterns. If it does move away, don’t chase after it. try to figure out what you did to spook it so you don’t do that next time.
Everyone has different ethics, and I am not here to tell you that I am a more ethical person that you. All I can hope is that the next time you have a decision to make, that you think about what the consequences of you getting the shot are, not just how I can I get the shot.
A couple of reminders. My 2020 calendars are ready to order at: https://www.wpotrebkaphotography.com/2020-calendar
and registration for my October 7th Goose Flight Workshop at FortWhyte Alive is now open at:
Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog. Please click the like button if you like it, and as always please leave any questions in the comments and I will answer them.