A Rant - "in pursuit of a photo"
"Is it just me or ..?"
Over the last few years, I have witnessed a sad and declining, respect for the countryside/nature. I know this post will probably only be read by those who are already on my wavelength and share my sense of respect for the "the countryside code" and appreciate the delicate balance between enjoying and destroying nature's wonderful spectre.
However, I still feel the need to rant a bit as I am basically tired and dismayed at the sight of the public/photographers who think, or possibly not think, that it's ok to walk across, trample on, interfere with nature because their selfie or photo they want to take merits the damage they cause.
Over the last several years, whilst running photography workshops across the UK, and in particular bluebell woodlands, poppy fields, delphinium fields, lavender fields or just general outdoor locations, I have witnessed too many, and sadly, an increasing lack of common sense, respect and selfish approach to photography.
For example; I recently ran two workshops to photograph a poppy field at sunset. Naturally, we were not alone and another 20 or so "photographers" had also turned up to photograph the spectacular site of poppies. The other "photographers" (including a local camera club group of 10) chose to bypass the public footpath and enter the field through the farmer's gate, that was locked. If that wasn't bad enough, many of them also felt it was acceptable, in the name of getting their shot, to walk into the crop of poppies (grown for the seeds for bread).
I did my best to talk, "diplomatically", to a number of people who felt that it was ok to trample, damage and stray off the footpath in pursuit of their own indulgement but sadly too many of them just didn't care.
I have noticed that whenever I run workshops where there is an obvious subject of interest, there is a sad tendency for people to take the narrow-minded, selfish or maybe just unaware attitude to feeling it's ok to destroy or just damage nature because "getting the shot" is all that matters.
So, this post is not aimed at those who also share my thoughts about taking the classic shots, opposed to finding your own interpretation that may be far more rewarding and of course challenging. It's aimed at all those mindless individuals who don't care if they are trespassing, damaging the environment or just setting a bad example. I sort of understand why the phone snapping public doesn't get it and understand it. (Though I've made no secret about my views in regard to the narcissistic selfies in previous blogs)
But, if a camera club turns up or a so-called professional, part or full-time, to do a portrait shoot or run a workshop for clients, it beggars belief that they feel it's ok to do whatever they want to get the photo. Likewise to all those amateurs and hobbyists out there - these locations and amazing sights are not there just for your pursuit and if you continue to destroy, disturb and dismantle nature's balance, there won't be anything to enjoy in years to come.
My clients will tell you that I am passionate about respecting, appreciating and enjoying our outdoors. It's not just a line in my T&Cs for anyone signing up for my workshops. It's also a condition that I email out beforehand to reinforce the importance of it.
"As photographers, we have a duty to be custodians of the environment, protect and respect the natural landscape and proactively support conservation. Any participant acting out of accordance with these principles will be ejected from the workshop. This includes breaking branches on trees, critically disturbing or re-arranging of the natural environment or littering."
The countryside code
Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
Protecting the natural environment means taking special care not to damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, plants and trees. They provide homes and food for wildlife and add to everybody’s enjoyment of the countryside.
To all my fellow photographers, please share this, take on the responsibility for enforcing and reminding people of the countryside code. Education, not confrontation!
Thanks, rant over.