5 Steps to consider the landscape for your elopement/wedding photography
15.8 million visitors to The Lake District every year! While my very existence as an elopement and wedding photographer encourages visitors to this region, I try to treat the landscape with the respect it deserves, and ensure those I bring along do too. Sadly, there is no governing body for how to treat the wilderness, it’s continued beauty relies on those who seek to enjoy it.
When we fail to respect the nature we exploit, we become a parasite, and we run the risk of these beautiful places becoming a shadow of their former glory. Restrictions will be imposed and permit requirements will increase. Here’s 5 simple ways you can ensure your Elopement is as considerate to the landscape as possible (though these apply to all outdoor activities.)
1. Stick to the path as much as possible! While it’s impossible to stay on a path 100% of the time, making a conscious effort to do so will go a long way. Where you can’t stay on a path, or there simply isn’t one, teach yourself - and your group - which terrain can handle footfall.
YES - Stony, sandy and gravel surfaces are the safest to minimise your impact. SOME - Wet grass and swamp areas should be avoided where possible, but where this can’t be avoided spread yourselves out to reduce the concentration, and make a special effort to use any large rocks that may be available to you. NEVER - Walk over areas of moss, vegetation, wildflowers and other fragile plants. 2. Take your litter with you...
…and anything else you find along the way.
This one should really go without saying, particularly regarding your typical snack wrappers and tissues. But as people try new ways to create exciting images for their clients, we face new materials finding their way outside, and being left there.
When planning that champagne spray, sparkler shot or smoke bomb moment, remember you need to ensure you’re coming back with everything you take.
While none of these activities are particularly harmful to the environment, they aren’t completely harmless either - and therein lies the problem. When these activities are carried out repeatedly, and others see a trend they want to copy, the number of instances of these things happening increases, resulting in a ‘little harm’ a lot of the time. So with that being said, encourage your couples to really think about why they want a ‘sparkler shot’. What does it mean to them? Is it just for the trend and ‘the look’?
If it is, talk to them about alternative options that don’t impact the environment… ones that won’t leave you having to hold tiny hot metal rods until they cool or scrambling around looking for a popped cork. Trust me, on a windy day that's not easy!
3. Use nature’s backdrop
While on the topic of asking your couples what Pinterest requests are absolutely necessary, have a conversation about any decor they might be planning.
I find nature’s backdrop to be all you need for any elopement ceremony. But in this modern world where anything seems possible and our feeds are flooded with styled shoots, we can’t blame our couples for having grand plans. If your couple love the idea of an arch, suggest finding a natural arch in a woodland. Perhaps they want an abundance of floral arrangements? Take them to a meadow!
They might have a simple request of some wooden beams to say ‘I do’ in front of, but any decor beyond what you can carry yourselves on foot, has a much larger impact.
The car or van access to transport the structure, the way it is secured into or on the ground. Overall, a habit of bringing foreign materials into an environment, even temporarily, should be avoided. Just because we CAN take something somewhere, doesn’t me we SHOULD. 4. Tag Responsibly
This can be a touchy subject and it really depends who you ask. There's a variety of opinions out there and I'll let you make your own mind up but consider this:
You’ve found an amazing location, perhaps you’ve spent hours scouting the area to find it, perhaps it holds a special memory as you used to visit as a kid? Either way, you’ve picked this place for a reason and much of that reason is because it’s beautiful (and requires no vans bringing random decor).
It’s wild, it’s quiet, and the natural flora and fauna are in abundance. The pictures you take here are epic. You share them online, and you tag the exact location.
In the future you go back to enjoy it, fences have been erected, the grass verges have been trampled to mud and there’s rubbish strewn around.
I recommend when tagging, unless you’re tagging a landmark or well known area, to tag a general area instead of the specific location.
Leave a little mystery, let people explore themselves. It’s the best way to enjoy the area after all. 5. Understand your direct impact...
While I'm not going to try and tell you how to run your business, I am going to heavily encourage you not to settle into a ‘comfort zone’.
Often as an elopement photographer you find yourself doubling up as the planner/tour guide. You bring people to special locations you’ve found - as mentioned above - and this becomes a special place you now share with your couple.
Each couple you share ‘your place’ with will in turn, bring their own family and friends. They will quite understandably want to share the magical elopement location you took them to.
When this is just one couple with one family, the impact is negligible. But If you’ve created a conveyor belt of elopement clients and you’ve taken them all to the same locations, that’s a lot more footfall in a place they wouldn’t usually have known about. That is your direct impact!
You want your business to succeed, I get it, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of the landscape.
1. Stick to the path as much as possible! 2. Take your litter with you…and anything else you find. 3. Use the backdrop nature provides. 4. Tag locations responsibly. 5. Understand your impact and change up your locations. Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey!