Saying “I do” to sustainable wedding photography
How to capture love sustainably
As an earth-conscious wedding photographer, I don’t just want to preserve your memories, I want to do my bit to preserve our planet, too. So in this post, I’ll share what I’m doing to reduce my carbon footprint so I can offer more sustainable wedding photography. I hope it might inspire and help you to be more eco-friendly too. But it’s a process, so if you have ideas on what else I can do, I’m all ears!
Why wedding photographers need to protect our planet
That’s the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the average UK wedding produces. And it’s equivalent to the yearly carbon footprint of an entire household.
It’s a lot. So it’s important to talk about it.
Let’s start with why weddings have such a massive carbon footprint:
- Travel. Weddings bring friends and family together – and that means lots of people travelling from all over the UK, and often abroad, to join the celebration.
- Food and drink. There’s a huge supply chain – with the emissions to match – to keep everyone well-fed and
- Products. So many things will be made and delivered to bring your wedding to life. New outfits, stationery, favours, gifts, flowers, rings… Which all come at a cost to our environment. And don’t get me started on the harmful toxins that sparklers, fireworks, and smoke bombs emit.
So with all that going on, surely a wedding photographer won’t make much more difference?
Well, let’s think…
There’s travel to wedding venues, takeaway drinks on the road, digital equipment with short lifespans, high battery consumption, deliveries from suppliers… Yep, all those little things up. And put all the wedding photographers together and you’ve got – a lot more.
But here’s the thing…
Weddings are wonderful occasions to celebrate love, spend time with our faves, and make lifelong memories. And whilst they take a lot from the environment, weddings aren’t inherently wasteful. With some thoughtful planning, it’s possible to enjoy a lavish day and minimise your carbon footprint.
And choosing a sustainable wedding photography service will help. So to help you decide if I’m the right photographer for you, let’s look at what I do to reduce my impact on the environment…
My sustainability journey so far
One of the best bits about having your own business is that you can use it for good.
And as a wedding photographer, I want to run a more sustainable business and reduce my carbon footprint.
Why? I love nature. Not just because it’s my doggos’ favourite place (crash tackling each other into a pile of fallen leaves will, apparently, never get old), but also because mother nature provides the most nurturing ‘office’ environment – not to mention magical photo backdrops – at every wedding.
So this isn’t your typical stone-cold corporate sustainability statement. This is a peek behind the scenes to share how I do my best to protect our earthly home while I’m capturing your beautiful memories.
Here’s how I’ve made my wedding photography more sustainable…
I only shoot UK weddings, so my travel footprint isn’t as large as it could be, but I use my car for every wedding. Some days are local, but others can be quite a road trip.
Which is why I offset my travel with Ecologi.
In three years, I’ve:
- Reduced 33.7 tonnes of carbon (equivalent to saving 101 square metres of sea ice & making polar bears happy)
- Planted 643 trees (without breaking a nail)
- Funded 50 carbon-offset projects including producing energy from waste rice husks in India, fuelling cleaner cookstoves in Honduras, and protecting against deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil.
But it’s all about the collective approach. And so far, over 40k Ecologi members have funded 60m trees and saved 2.5m tonnes of CO2e. By the time you read this, it will be more. Go us!
Find out more about Ecologi and, if you want to, sign up using this link – and we both get free (sparkly) trees!
This was a big one. I once had drawers, trays, and boxes full of paperwork. These days, I’m almost paperless. In fact, the only thing I print now is my wedding day plans. All my other documents – like contracts, invoices, and receipts – are digital.
Use better batteries
As a documentary wedding photographer, I prefer to work with natural light. But when the sun goes down, artificial light is essential. But the trouble is, lighting equipment uses a lot of – harmful – batteries.
So I switched to ‘Eneloop Pro’ rechargeable batteries. These babies provide the power and speed that wedding photography demands. And even though they seem pricey up-front, they have a long lifespan. In fact, I’m still using the same set I’ve had since 2010. But if I ever need to replace them, I’ll go for Ikea Ladda – which are rumoured to be the same, apart from the price!
Partner with an earth-conscious album supplier
I chose the UK-based Folio Albums waaaay back when for their beautiful high-quality albums and super service. And their eco credentials have been an integral part of their philosophy even before sustainability was as high-profile as it is now. Their efforts include plastic-free packaging, chemical-free printing, and carbon-neutral couriers. Find out more about Folio Album’s eco ethos here.
Make deliveries online
I sent out my last USB in 2022 and have completely phased these out. Now, all digital photos are delivered through online downloads. I’m so pleased to remove the need for ageing tech, physical deliveries – and queues at the post office!
Consider the little things
I try to question everything as I go – big and little – to find ways to make a positive impact. This means I now:
- Take care of nature while shooting. I won’t trample on flowers in the name of a good photo
- Use my KeepCup for drinks on the road
- Recycle everything that can be recycled – even if it means half an hour on Google to find out where to send something
- Support small and local businesses, especially those with their own eco-friendly approach
- Keep my eyes and ears peeled for new ideas
Full disclosure: While I’m proud of all my efforts so far, it’s still a process. There’s definitely work still to be done.
So what’s next on my sustainability agenda?
Here’s something I, even as a pro wedding photographer, didn’t consciously realise until recently:
Silver halide prints – which have been the go-to since they were invented in the 1870s and are pretty much all you’ll find on the high street or the internet as a consumer – are so bad for our environment.
The technology is antiquated, needs a lot of energy, and involves a chemical process that generates toxic waste. And it requires gelatin – so it’s not vegan-friendly either. Urgh.
So, by the end of this year, I will only offer fine art prints.
Got any ideas of what else I can do as a wedding photographer? I’d love to hear your ideas.