What do I mean by that? How could those be opposing interests? A nature photographer like myself celebrates nature, we aren’t out there to harm it.

I’ve felt at home in and connected to nature my entire life. It seemed only natural to share this feeling with others. When I started focusing my photography on landscape and wildlife, it was to inspire people to love and protect our natural world.

Unfortunately, my actions may be having the exact opposite effect. The increased popularity of the iconic places of beauty in the world and iconic wildlife species is leading to irreparable damage in many locations instead of awareness of the importance of conservation. Whether you’re an experienced photographer with professional equipment or taking selfies with a mobile phone, we all need to ask ourselves some very important questions.

What is more important to you, the value of nature and wildlife or getting the shot?

When you visit a location, do you inform yourself ahead of time on the possible delicacy of the ecosystem and the habits and life cycles of the various species, in order to avoid unwittingly causing harm?

Are you aware of the impact of your visit and actions on the natural environment? The impact on habitats and ecosystems, but also on the actions of other people witnessing your behavior?

Do you not only enthusiastically share your photos on social media, but also share the location the photos were taken, thereby triggering other people to go out and get the exact same shot?

When you see or hear warnings and rules about not entering a location, not disturbing species, etc., do you obey them or is your response to think that the rules apply to everyone else but not to you? Was I too close to that seal? The rule was 30 meters, and I was sitting in the sand a good 30 meters from the herd. But this young and curious guy came over to investigate me. I fired off one shot before picking up my equipment and moving off.

Do you adhere to the principle Leave No Trace? Do you pick up litter and leave a location better than you found it?

What is your response to the above questions? ‘Of course I think nature is important but everyone breaks the rules so why should I be an exception?’ ‘I’m respectful of nature but nobody else seems to be. They’re the ones causing the problem, not me.’ ‘Yes, I have unwittingly done damage in the past, but now that I’m aware of this, I will be more careful in the future.’

It’s important to not only search your own heart for answers but to also actively discuss this with others. Only then can we spread awareness of the problem we’re creating.

A few years ago, an international group of nature photographers got together to form an alliance known as Nature First. On the basis of above questions, they formulated seven principles for nature photography. Gradually, the movement is gathering momentum and chapters are being formed all over the world. Through organizations like this, we can spread awareness of the need to protect and nurture the nature we love. #naturefirst  #naturefirstprinciples @naturefirst_org @naturefirstNLDBE