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The Ethical Wildlife Photographer

Critically Endangered Red Wolf

Today there is a rapidly growing problem with photographers interfering with wildlife and their survival. If you photograph wildlife and you do not ask yourself “am I the problem”, then there’s a good chance you might be. It is important that when we pick up our cameras to remember this: we are going out to take photos and enjoy ourselves; but in everything that wildlife is doing is all about survival. It is very important to not interfere with that. Most wild animals have short life expectancies due to the many challenges they face. It’s sad to see photographers quickly becoming another one of those challenges.

Bald Eagle

Social media has become a major contributing factor. You do not have to look far on social media

to find wildlife photos with many having locations tagged. That in itself has created a public invite to “come see the *** here”. Public wildlife refuges are great places for anyone to go and enjoy a vast variety of wildlife. But so many people stay focused on the species that struggles the most for survival. I sadly see people putting their photo’s importance ahead of an animal’s survival. Most people do this unknowingly of the negative impacts that it creates. Ethics for me has been a learning process as much as everything else that goes along with wildlife photography. My passion for photography goes far beyond nature and wildlife. I also have a passion for nature and wildlife that’s of its own. For me that is where the two roads come together. I know I have made my own mistakes. I constantly challenge myself to be more ethical as well as a better photographer. A lot of my photos do seem "close up" but that's mostly an illusion due to the camera gear I use in the field and cropping. The Bald Eagle photo was at least 150ft away. This one was taken from inside of the car from the road way. I stopped when I saw the eagle, trying not to flush him. He did stick around for a bit before flying off. The wolf at the top was at least 100 yards away. A lot of the bear photos I take are from the road and inside my car/truck. I ease to a stop, take the photo and move on. When I'm in a large refuge, I see way more wildlife buy covering as much ground as I can. Please remember, if you see wildlife moving, hunting or bedding down/perched, do know that what it is doing is crucial to its survival. This goes for birds, land animals, reptiles and even insects. We can enjoy our planet and its creatures without being destructive to nature.

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well said - photography with a purpose

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