July 13th, 2011
I have seen quite a few articles lately regarding using electronic devices and other means to call birds. This activity is done by both birders and bird photographers to get a closer view of the bird. This act is at best selfish and unethical. At worst, this practice can put birds’ lives in danger. Given how many people think this behavior is acceptable, I thought this would be a good time to explain what vegan nature photography is.
Do not intentionally flush birds
While walking down paths, it is often impossible not to unintentionally flush a few birds. If this happens, back up a bit and try to avoid creating any additional stress. Never intentionally flush groups of birds to “get a better look.” Particularly during migration, birds are stopping to rest on a very long journey. Avoid causing them more stress.
Stay on the path
Many animals nest on the ground or use ground material for cover in the winter. Avoid straying off paths so you do not disturb anyone.
Do not use electronic devices to call birds
“Playback” is never ethical. Playing bird song to get a closer look causes a great deal of stress for birds. If one cannot see the birds from the path, etc., and does not have the time to wait, use the “better luck next time” philosophy. Go home; try again later. (I would go as far to say that a photographer who uses these devices to attract birds for pictures is not much of a photographer.)
Be respectful of nests and dens
If you run into a nest, den, or any other home, be respectful of that animal’s space. Most humans would not be too happy about people coming by and opening the doors to their houses just to see what/who is inside. Have the same respect for nonhuman animals. Do not open nest boxes (unless you are the caretaker for that nest box).
Always use digital photography
No matter how much of “purist” one thinks he or she is, using a film camera is not vegan. Film and film processing are not vegan. Use digital equipment and vegan photo paper. Canon and several other companies make acceptable photo paper. When getting prints elsewhere, just ask the company what kinds of paper they use. From Canon:
“The coating on all of Canon’s photo papers would consist of Polyethylene-terephthalate, which is plastic based. Canon photo paper would be gelatin and acid free” (2009).
It is our responsibility as photographers to not only share our vision with others so they can appreciate the world through our lens, it is also our responsibility to take care of the community that provides us with these beautiful images. Without them, we have no pictures. Please help take care of this world, for all of us.
© Chris Taylor
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