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Six Steps to Becoming a Green Photographer

Posted By Aaron Lindberg On June 10, 2009 @ 7:22 am In Business of Photography | 5 Comments

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One of my New Year’s resolutions was to “green up” my photography business in 2009. Six months later, I am proud to say that I am still sticking to that resolution. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to learn that being environmentally conscious has led to real cost savings for my business.

Here are six steps for becoming a green photographer:

    1. Go totally digital. Yes, film has its romance — but not for the environment. A few years ago, the only option we had was to discard countless plastic film canisters into the trash after we loaded the camera, and then burn through a ton of chemicals to process film and develop and wash prints in the darkroom. All of that has changed with digital photography. From start to finish, working with digital equipment is cleaner than our old methods.

    2. Use your mobile phone for driving directions. I used to scribble down notes or print out directions to get where I was going on photo shoots. Now I just use my phone. Depending on the service you use, you can view a map or even get voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. And you’ll save on all that wasted paper.

    3. Transition to FTP delivery of photos. If you mail out, say, 50 CDs to clients in a year, think about how many different vehicles carry those packages and burn gas in transit. If you can transition your clients from CDs to FTP delivery, you can help the environment and save significantly on shipping costs. FTP is an easy way to move large files; all you need to do is upload your photos to a server space and send the link to your clients. Yes, you’ll have to spend a little time educating your clients and getting their buy-in — but it’s well worth it.

    4. Use rechargeable batteries when you can. Not only is this cheaper than buying disposable batteries over the long run; it will also keep those nasty battery chemicals out of the landfill.

    5. Change your printing habits. Do not make hard copies of e-mails, and be sure to read as much as you can online. This saves on both paper and ink and will keep your trash can empty. Also be sure to recycle/reuse your printer cartridges. A lot of places give you a discount or freebie for bringing in your used cartridges; take advantage of these deals.

    6. Recycle, recycle, recycle. The biggest single step any business owner can take is to commit to recycling paper, plastic and alumimum — and anything else your local waste disposal center will accept. They’ll come and haul it away — then put it back into use. Start today by cleaning all the aluminum cans or plastic bottles off of your desk and finding a recycling bin to put them in.

Fortunately for our planet, being a green photographer is easier than it used to be, thanks to digital equipment. But there’s always more you can do. Chances are you’ll find, as I did, that you can help the environment while improving the bottom line of your business.

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5 Comments To "Six Steps to Becoming a Green Photographer"

#1 Comment By Sean Cayton On June 10, 2009 @ 10:53 am

All great suggestions Aaron.

I do wonder about digital though... Is it really greener?

What about all of those first, second and third generation cameras that just like old computer equipment are sitting on my shelf and are filled with some pretty nasty metals?

I suppose we could donate them to the local school but what happens after that?

Also, another thought about being a green photographer: Stay local!

Live and work in the same place and your footprint on the environment is a lot smaller...

Thanks for a great read!

#2 Comment By Theresa On June 10, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

These are great tips. Many of which can be applied to other applications as well – namely business operations or home.

In addition to photos, business documents can also go digital and paperless (i.e. annual report, newsletters). Posting large files on an FTP site is great when it's too big to email. I've forwarded or downloaded AV files that way too (audio recordings, videos, client commercials).

Putting driving directions on the cell phone is a new but good one. I usually print out directions on the second side of previously used paper. If it's a location that I'll return to again, I will file the printed directions in a expandable accordian file/wallet. I file the location (or person) alphabetically so it's easy to retrieve the next time I drive there.

In addition to lasting longer than disposable alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries can be recycled after they can no longer hold a proper charge. While they can be charged up to 1,000 times and last between 2-5 years, eventually they will wear out. Find a convenient neighborhood drop off location at [2].

In addition to recycling the more common items that can go into the curbside recycling bin, there are many electronics recycling programs for items like digital cameras, camcorders, cell phones, radios, televisions, printers, etc... Office Depot has Tech Trash and RadioShack has Trade-In that will calculate the value of the old electronics and generate a redeemable gift card for new purchases at any RadioShack store.

#3 Comment By Scott Baradell On June 10, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

Sean, I think Theresa's last paragraph answers your question, and is a great tip to add:

"In addition to recycling the more common items that can go into the curbside recycling bin, there are many electronics recycling programs for items like digital cameras, camcorders, cell phones, radios, televisions, printers, etc... Office Depot has Tech Trash and RadioShack has Trade-In that will calculate the value of the old electronics and generate a redeemable gift card for new purchases at any RadioShack store."

#4 Comment By gene x hwang/orange photography On June 10, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

Great info and comments! We've gone green (first photography studio to be party of the City/County of San Francisco's Green Business Program) and it's been a lot of small adjustments as well as many of what you've written above. We started composting as well and although we only have six full timers at the studio during the weekdays, we've found that more than %60 of our trash is compostable. I know composting isn't available everywhere but you can also do your own.

#5 Comment By Karl Johnston On June 11, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

I have been thinking on enacting greener principles myself, lately. I go as far as taking my bike to sessions, dramatically cutting down on the price of gas for myself.

I have a saying; "Every day I try to be 1 step ahead, except for the days when I can't help but be 11 steps ahead"

Basically, if you can find a way to go green; do it. Don't wait. It's a lot cheaper than you think, and you have the right to appeal to the eco-friendly consumer.


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