As a leader in the field of nature photography and environmental issues, NANPA occasionally issues statements describing the organization’s position on critical issues. These statements are approved by the Board of Directors and published to major media outlets and field locations. The board recognizes that an individual’s concept of ethical behavior and feelings about the environment are very personal. Consequently, NANPA may issue guidelines and suggestions in these two areas but will in no way attempt to dictate policies either to members or nonmembers.
- Access to Public Lands
- Environmental Statement (English | Español)
- Ethical Field Practices (English | Español)
- Truth in Captioning Statement (revised 7/17)
Charge: Gather, disseminate and promote information on ethical issues involving nature photography.
The NANPA Ethics Committee is proactive in addressing possible ethical issues involving nature photography. The committee helps to promote information on ethical field practices and truth in captioning and also works with the NANPA Board to respond to ethical issues related to NANPA and nature photography.
If you are interested in joining the Ethics Committee, please contact Chair Melissa Groo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the Ethics Committee
Melissa Groo- Committee Chair
“Ethics are at the core of a nature photographer’s practice. The creation of any nature photograph involves a relationship between the photographer and an animal, plant, or landscape. That relationship may affect our subjects in ways that range from benign to pronounced, from fleeting to permanent. An essential part of a nature photographer’s fieldcraft is to educate themselves about their subject and to minimize any impact their presence will have on that subject. Ethical practices become increasingly critical given the severe pressures on our remaining wildlife and wild landscapes, and the explosion of popularity in nature photography. How can we safeguard nature while at the same time celebrate it? This is a broad question the Ethics Committee aims to help photographers answer in a myriad of ways.”
Melissa Groo is the Chair of NANPA’s Ethics Committee, she feels strongly about the use of ethical practices in the photography of wildlife, and tries her best to disrupt her subjects as little as possible. The welfare of the subject is always her first priority. She helped create Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography, and has advised National Wildlife Magazine and the National Audubon Society on ethical guidelines for wildlife photography.
Melissa is the wildlife photography columnist for Outdoor Photographer magazine and a contributing editor to Audubon magazine. She recently received NANPA’s 2017 Vision Award, given to a photographer every two years in recognition of early career excellence, vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation and education.
She has also been awarded Audubon Connecticut’s 2017 Katie O’Brien Lifetime Achievement Award, which annually recognizes a person who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.
“As nature photographers, we have the privilege of peering into the lives of incredible species, traveling untrodden paths, gazing upon majestic landscapes, and sharing the stories of all that we document with the rest of the world. Often times, we are the only connection that our subjects will ever have to the rest of the world. As individuals, we are all driven to document the natural world for many reasons that might include a desire to express wonder, speaking up for the protection of the natural world, or simply to learn more about our own lives through the process of photography. Whatever that reason may be, it is essential for all of us to remember that our subjects, be they moss, mammal, or mountaintop, have a place in our world that deserves to be respected as we would our fellow human beings. It is my belief that we should always strive to enter into their presence with great care and humility, making every effort to put their well-being first. How we treat our subjects says more about us as nature photographers—as stewards of the natural world—than the imagery that may result from these interactions.”
John E. Marriott
John E. Marriott is one of Canada’s premier professional wildlife and nature photographers, with images published worldwide by National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Canadian Geographic, McLean’s, and Reader’s Digest. He is a contributing editor Outdoor Photography Canada magazine and the host of the popular web series EXPOSED with John E. Marriott (www.exposedwithjohnemarriott.com).
John has produced five coffee table books and one guidebook, including three Canadian bestsellers: Banff & Lake Louise: Images of Banff National Park (2007), Wildlife of the Canadian Rockies: A Glimpse at Life on the Wild Side (2008), and The Canadian Rockies: Banff, Jasper & Beyond (2009). He just recently released The Pipestones: The Rise and Fall of a Wolf Family.
John is the owner/operator of Canadian Wildlife Photography Tours (www.canwildphototours.com), featuring wildlife photo adventures, workshops, and expeditions to out-of-the-way Canadian locales.
John prides himself on being a conservation photographer known for photographing wilderness scenes and wild, free-roaming animals in their natural habitats.
The manner in which I capture my images is far more important than the images themselves. Nature photography is capturing the world as it unfolds in front of you without influence. The use of bait, lures, calls or other disruptive techniques for photographic purposes only lessens the images captured. Holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards while in the field not only strengthens our images, but protects the very subjects we love.
Daniel Dietrich is the owner of Point Reyes Safaris, a wildlife viewing and photographic safari company operating in Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. Daniel sits on the Board of Directors for the Environmental Action Committee, an organization dedicated to protecting West Marin County’s wild lands, wildlife and watersheds. Daniel is also on the ethics committee for NANPA.
Mike is a Massachusetts-based wildlife photographer, instructor, and workshop leader. He began his professional photography career in 2005 after working 27 years as a Software Engineer and quickly gravitated toward birds as his main subject. He strives to create images that include an artistic element and have an aesthetic appeal that transcends their role as natural history documentation.
Mike’s work has been featured in numerous juried art fairs and exhibits throughout New England and has garnered awards from the North American Nature Photography Association, National Audubon Society, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, Birdphotographers.net, and Naturescapes.net. His images are represented by Birdimagency and publication credits include National Geographic Magazine, Audubon, Nature’s Best, National Wildlife Federation, Science et Vie Junior, Palm Press, and Woodmansterne Publications.
Mike is passionate about the welfare of his subjects and prefers to work with wild birds in their natural habitat with as little disruption to their normal routine as possible. He is equally passionate about teaching photography and helping clients take their imagery to the next level. His engineering background makes him especially adept at communicating complex subjects in a well organized, step by step manner that proves to be very effective for beginners and more experienced photographers alike.
“Nature is full of inextricably, beautifully tangled stories. As nature and wildlife photographers, above all we aim to tell these stories in the most authentic way possible. Ethics are not simply a factor to be considered in wildlife photography, but exist at the core of documenting living beings. Without ethics, wildlife photography is at risk of being another way we exploit nature, potentially harming the very animals and landscapes we celebrate in our images. The welfare of the animal and landscape must always come before the photograph. This principle is inextricably, beautifully ingrained in what it means to photograph wildlife.”
As a young wildlife photographer, April’s ethics have evolved from the subconscious gut feeling of what feels right or wrong into the conscious foundation of her work. April’s photography centers around exploring the importance of the relationship between humans and wilderness, both underwater and above. For the past few years she has a focused on sharing the stories of coastal wolves living on rainforest islands on the west coast of Canada, where ethics principles in wildlife photography have been a guiding light in doing so.
“I was fortunate to embrace nature photography in conjunction with my volunteer work at a wildlife hospital. It brought me into an ethical framework that demanded a high level of respect and care for individual animals. That ethical paradigm transfers directly to how we as photographers treat wild animals in the field. At its most fundamental, ethical wildlife photography holds the welfare of the animal above any photographic capture. At its most expansive, it promotes increased consideration and compassion for wild animals through practice, education, conversation and advocacy … and, of course, through the imagery itself. In between lie all of the pragmatic steps that we as individual photographers take to reduce our impact, to understand the natural history of our subjects, and to make choices about when to proceed and when to back away. The values we assign to those choices are critical. They form the collective ethos of our community as photographers and, in an even larger context, they determine our relationship to other species and the future of their survival and conservation.”
Ingrid Taylar is a freelance writer and photographer, with a background in publishing research. Her research credits include sixteen best-selling books and four books series. Her passion for wildlife photography evolved from hands-on work in a wildlife hospital, where she also completed Hazwoper training for oil spill response, and was certified in Wildlife Emergency Response training for field rescue. Her photographs appear in a variety of publications and educational installations. In 2014, Ingrid co-founded the Wildlife Conservation Pass Project, a grassroots effort to implement a new birding/photography pass for our National Wildlife Refuge system.
Jennifer Leigh Warner
“What does ethics mean to me? – As a conservation photographer I feel it is my responsibility to protect and preserve the creatures and places that I photograph. In order to do this, I practice ethical behavior when photographing wildlife. This means always putting the welfare of my subject before me and my photograph.”
Jennifer Leigh is a fine art and conservation wildlife photographer living in California. Jennifer specializes in photographing animals in their natural habitat and feels strongly that the images that she captures can be used as a powerful tool to share the stories of the natural world. Jennifer hopes her images can be used to inspire those around her to protect the environment that these animals live in.
As a conservation photographer Jennifer feels it is her responsibility to protect and preserve the creatures and places that she photographs. In order to do this, she practices ethical behavior when photographing wildlife. “This means always putting the welfare of my subject before me and my photograph.”
“In its simplest form, ethics in nature photography means always seeking to minimize our impact on the natural environment. This can be applied in a variety of ways. My aim is to ensure that I never directly or indirectly stress, restrict, endanger, harass or cause a subject to change its normal activity. A wildlife photographers ought to have a sound understanding of their subject’s behavior in order to identify any signs of stress. Always err on the side of caution, even if it means you miss out on a photographic opportunity. Capturing a nature photograph should never come before the best interests of your subjects or their habitat.”
Nathaniel Smalley is a professional nature photographer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Though he calls the American Southwest his home, most of his time is spent leading photography tours and safaris to various international destinations. His study of photography began early in high school and he continues to explore the art form to this day. Through his images he strives to foster a real love and respect for the natural world by touching the heart of the viewer with its beauty. Whether sharing his knowledge at a workshop in Arizona or leading a photo tour in some forgotten corner of the world, Nathaniel strives to impart his ethical approach to nature photography to everyone. More than just another nature photographer, Nathaniel is also a passionate conservationist. He has done extensive work with various conservation and rehabilitation organizations over the last three decades, filling every role from a volunteer assisting injured birds and mammals, to board member. Nathaniel strives at all times to adhere to the highest standards of ethics in nature photography and avoid any of the cheap shortcuts that could in any way harm his subjects or the environment. For him the natural world is a sanctuary where he captures images of the living world and shares them with those who love and appreciate nature as he does.
Roberta Olenick is a freelance wildlife photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her images have appeared in a variety of publications including BBC Wildlife, National Geographic and Canadian Geographic. She has a Master’s degree in Zoology (Animal Ecology) and has worked as a park interpreter, a natural history writer and an environmental activist for a variety of organizations including Earth Island Institute and Ecojustice Canada.
As a photographer, she is constantly learning how best to further minimize her impact on the creatures who give themselves to her camera. Her ultimate goal is to never spook the animals. www.neverspook.com