The Importance of Wildlife Ethics
Hi there, I’m Juan Pons. I’ve been a Wildlife Photographer leading workshops and seminars around the world for the last twenty years. I’m so honored to be one of the featured instructors at this year’s Outdoor Photography Conference on May 18-19th.
One topic I will be focusing on during the conference is fundamental to my work as a photographer and outdoor enthusiast- always exercising respect and protecting wildlife and the environment while capturing a memorable image.
No image, no matter how unique or special it may be, is worth stressing, endangering, or otherwise harming the wildlife or the landscape. As wildlife photographers, it is essential to be advocates for the environment and to lead others through our own actions and diligence. If we as the storytellers, who love to photograph and observe the wildlife, do not prioritize protecting them, who will?
In my presentation, I will discuss a few of the areas of focus I always follow to ensure wildlife and their environment are being protected:
- Understanding Your Subjects
The most beautiful wildlife photographs originate from natural behavior. We need to prepare ourselves to capture those critical moments, and the best way to do so is to research and understand our subjects, their behaviors, social structures, diet, migratory habits, and more. You can never really predict what wildlife will do at any moment, but by familiarizing ourselves intimately with our subjects, we can be ready to create those once in a lifetime images.
- Leaving No Trace
The foundation of all wildlife photographers’ ethics should be to always leave no trace. This concept extends beyond the landscape- the wellbeing of your subject must be your priority at all times. We must never alter, modify, disturb or harm any habitat, food source, or surroundings. I advise all adventurers to understand they are a guest in the landscape they’re shooting. You should always consider the welfare of your subject first and foremost- ask yourself if the next action you are about to take will bring any harm in this moment or even in the distant future.
- Being In The Moment
Oftentimes, we become engrossed in making images and neglect to fully appreciate the environment we’re in and the beauty we are witnessing. Take a moment to put your camera down, take a breath, and observe your surroundings. This practice deepens our connection and strengthens our appreciation of the environment and our subjects. As Baba Dioum well put it “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”
All of these topics, and many more, are imperative to our success as photographers and wildlife ambassadors. When we commit to the wellbeing of all wildlife, we create a symbiotic relationship with the environment. I look forward to expanding on these topics during our time together in my seminar this week.
Juan Pons Photography