I believe that we need to always practice a high degree of ethics in nature photography, when out photographing nature.
By doing so, we ensure that ourselves and fellow photographers will be invited back to the places we love to photograph and experience.
Many of these are just common sense and standard ethics amongst “Good” nature photographers.
- Do not chase the wildlife to get closer for a “Better Shot”.
- All animals have a “zone” in which they will tolerate your presence, be a good observer by studying animal behaviour.
- Use appropriate lenses to photograph, if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens.
- Do not stay too long around nests, as this is very disruptive to the feeding of chicks etc.
- Do not remove material from around nests, this may result in the nest being abandoned.
- Do not refrigerate animals to make them easier to photograph.
- Do not remove plants from the wild to photograph elsewhere.
- Learn patterns of animal behaviour, know when not to interfere with animal’s life cycles.
- Respect the routine needs of animals, such as a feeding babies, need for water, shelter and food.
- Remember that others may want to photograph the same subject.
- Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem, stay on tracks that are intended to lessen impact.
- When appropriate, inform authorities of your presence and purpose, help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety.
- Learn the rules and laws of the location, if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them.
- In the absence of management authority, use good judgement, treat the wildlife, plants and places with respect.
- Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events, avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps.
- Treat others courteously, ask before joining others already shooting in an area.
- Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behaviour, many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals.
- Report inappropriate behaviour to proper authorities, don’t argue with those who don’t care, report them.
- Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen, educate others by your actions, enhance their understanding.
- Don’t enter private property without permission regardless of where you are.
- Don’t leave litter when you leave the area, take your rubbish with you.
- When displaying your images, if they were shot under a controlled situation such as in a zoo, animal display, captive or baited, then say so (it doesn’t take anything away from your skill as a photographer but we need to be transparent and honest), equally if they aren’t your images give credit to the photographer
Finally, and most significant, remember that the welfare of the subject and habitat are irrefutably more important than the photograph. Be a good role model to fellow nature photographers and the public, always practice good ethics in nature photography.