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Is it possible to be a sustainable wedding photographer?
I care about nature, people around me and how the world will look decades from now. You’re maybe just like me. Worried you’re not doing enough, wishing you could do better. Consequently I had this thought the other day: is it even possible to be a sustainable wedding photographer?
Sustainable companies aim to make a positive impact on both ethical, environmental and economical aspects of their business.
Certainly there’s a LOT to think about when it comes to sustainability, and you should always ask questions if a company claims to be completely sustainable or environmentally friendly.
Firstly, it’s nearly impossible to produce a product and not have an impact on the environment. Secondly, it’s time consuming and expensive to source and research all production lines and aspects of everyone you’re buying raw material from.
Being environmentally conscious is better than not making any efforts at all
Some companies are definitely better than others at this! But my sentiment is that being a sustainable wedding photographer is a high-hanging fruit.
However, we can all strive to become more sustainable, and we can be environmentally conscious. And that is better than not making ANY efforts at becoming a sustainable wedding photographer at all.
Although I’m not perfect, I’m doing what I can to reduce waste, preserve resources, be fair with co-workers and suppliers, plan for more environmentally friendly products and services, support local businesses, and eventually be plastic free.
Apart from what I’ve already done, I’m taking conscious steps towards being more sustainable in 2020. And in this blogpost I will describe what I aim for.
Thoughtfully sourced materials
My products (packaging, prints, albums, stationery and so on) are thoughtfully sourced. This means that they’re maybe not perfectly sustainable or green, or whichever definition you choose, but they are chosen based on a few important, sustainability principles.
- Made locally, in my own country or in my hometown
- Is supporting a small, creative business financially
- Are low waste or plastic free
- Supports a charity that is important to me
Personally I support charities that work for women’s rights and work environment, education or targets a specific environmental concern.
Here’s what I’ve done so far to become a more sustainable wedding photographer:
- Most of my marketing material is recyclable or reusable
- I have next to no plastic in circulation
- I use a lot of natural fibres such as wood, linen and silk
- Silk ribbons are slowly handmade and support a creative, local business
- Wedding albums are wrapped in plastic-free packaging
- Album cover materials that are consciously sourced within the UK
- I wrap products without plastic
- I’m offering a higher percentage of my market material digitally
- I host meetings online (don’t we all, lately ?)
Reduce, reuse and recycle
All the materials I send out were chosen because they are possible to reuse or recycle. For example, I really hope that you will reuse my beautiful heirloom silk ribbons! Wrap your next gift with it and see it travel from one person to another. I also send out a cute tote bag to my booked clients, and it’s handmade by a small husband/wife team in the UK, made with organic cotton.
Dirty Boots & Messy Hair wrote a really good article about what wedding photographers can do to be more eco friendly outside of the product sourcing. For instance, they suggest travelling less, leaving no traces when photographing in nature (being Norwegian also comes with it’s advantages here – it’s virtually impossible for me to leave waste on the ground while out and about, and sometimes I even pick up other people’s litter ?), buying second hand gear, and developing your awareness around sustainability to start with!
Nostalgia and happy conversations
It’s not just materials and waste reduction that’s important to me. In addition, I have a deeper and more profound idea behind Glitter & Twigs, and that has to do with what I want my photos to MEAN. My ultimate goal in business would be if my photos sparked these feelings:
- Looking happy, beautiful and full of life
- The feeling that good conversations give you from flicking through the photos year after year
- Nostalgia way down the line, 10, 20, 30 years from now when you’re reliving memories of people that have aged, passed away, and grown.
So if we’re looking at the broadest definition of sustainable from the dictionary:
Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level
In other words, I aim to make my photos stand the test of time, without decreasing in quality. Through quality albums that last for decades, and through my shooting and editing style.
Where can I get better?
Phew! That was a lot. I don’t claim to be perfect, and there’s plenty of room to improve. And I can honestly say that I at this stage just take the word of my suppliers. I’ve not yet actively researched THEIR processes to see how green or environmentally friendly they actually are.
But we all need more trust in this world. Or what?
Above all, I believe that doing a little or doing my best is better than not caring at all.
What I can get better at is
- Purchasing in bulk to reduce transport impact
- Set aside a higher budget for ethical and eco friendly products – supporting these kinds of businesses are (rightly so) expensive
- Do better research when buying new products
- Travel less, or choose greener modes of transport
- Donate more to selected charities every year
Hopefully this article made you realise the effort I make to keep Glitter & Twigs an eco friendly wedding photography business. And maybe it inspired you to make a few little changes in your own life.
From now on, I’ll always leave you with a quick action step to implement straight away. Let me know how that goes over on Instagram.
❇️ Action Step: Choose ONE product you offer or purchase today and try to figure out how it was made, and where the raw materials came from. I’d LOVE to hear about your findings!