Do a photo shoot with me – and save the world

Well folks, Easter is over, and the school holidays will be finished soon too. So I guess it’s back to work until Anzac day or something.

As you’re probably aware, “Earth Hour” took place on Saturday night and so I did some thinking about the way we do things around here. As a result I have some big news for you!

Now I like to think I’m a bit of an “early adopter”, and I embraced a fully digital workflow fairly early on. In fact it was around 2003; so while I certainly wasn’t among the first to change over, I still remember distinctly having to explain the benefits of digital to a lot of clients.

But like I said, I did some thinking during Earth Hour (there was nothing much else to do with everything switched off – and the children still up), and got to wondering about my “carbon footprint” as a photographer.

It seemed to me that digital was definitely ahead of film from an environmental point of view – I mean, think of all that film and all those chemicals. But then I started to think about all the power my equipment uses – not just the camera, but also the lights I use and of course my computer, which is integral to the image-making process these days.

I remember my Environmental Science teacher back in high school, Bill Cleveland, saying that “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. Which has given me a bit of a complex ever since. I mean, I feel kind of responsible for the whole Middle East business, because I have to admit I’ve done bugger all to fix it, personally.

But that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at is that I decided to change the way I operate the photography practice, so that you and I can be a part of the solution.

So what actually changes, and how does it affect you?

Well I had a look in my equipment cupboard to see if I could do any recycling. It turned out I have a perfectly serviceable Olympus 35RD rangefinder film camera from the seventies, and a 1958 model Kodak Box Brownie.

The Olympus takes great pictures but does use a small amount of electricity from a small “button” battery for the light meter. The Brownie, however, is fully manual (well, technically, it’s not even manual – there’s just nothing to adjust on it) and power-free, and is therefore my “enviro-camera” of choice.

So from now on I’ll be shooting all corporate portraits and headshots, events, and that kind of thing on the Brownie. Don’t worry, the quality is top notch – the pictures are a bit kind of – blurrier – than you’re probably used to now, and the exposure is a bit hit and miss, but the effect really grows on you.

If you’re after something a little sharper, I’m happy to get the little Olympus out. But because it uses some battery power for the light meter, I’ll need to add a small “carbon offset” charge of one cent per photograph to your bill. This money will go directly towards planting trees in my backyard.

As I mentioned, the other big power guzzlers are my electronic flash units. So it’s strictly “available light” from now on. This may necessitate slower shutter speeds at times – so if you have a booking for corporate head shot portraits, I recommend that you advise all personnel to avoid coffee before the photo session. If people have “the shakes” while posing, they may end up with a rather fuzzy portrait.

The new setup may take a little getting used to, but hopefully you’re as excited as I am about changing the world in our own little way. I look forward to our next shoot!


P.S. I know it sounds a little extreme – and I was hesitant at first myself – but to further reduce my environmental impact by lowering water usage, I have placed my “old” digital SLR camera in the cistern of my toilet.

P.P.S. What are you doing at your workplace to reduce your carbon footprint or save the world? Please add your own environmental suggestions in the comments.

One thought on “Do a photo shoot with me – and save the world

  • Brent Danley

    02/07/2008 at 21:30

    Haha, Steven. You are so funny. What am I doing, as a photographer, to reduce my carbon footprint?

    Dreaming about purchasing three of the new SB-900 speedlights. Oh, wait, that’s not reducing anything. Well, then, I guess a whole lotta nothin’. Perhaps I’ll trade taking lighthouse pics for taking pictures of little bugs crawling around the apartment.

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