It’s not just an image. Sustainable lifestyle photography can impact a positive movement and, in the long run, impact the planet.

As Joel Sartore puts it, “We may be winning some battles here and there, but we’re losing the war.” A conservation photographer and long-time National Geographic Magazine contributor, Sartore has witnessed how much human actions have negatively impacted the environment. Photography can’t solve the earth’s problems, but can it encourage the public to take action?

Sustainable living is so much more than a trend. Sure, it’s nice to see those neutral-colored uniform food containers, the cute metal straws and collapsible cups, the modern aesthetic that bloggers and influencers share on social media. However, beyond those images is an everyday practice. It’s a learning experience that teaches us how to use less plastic, how to make smarter purchases, and how to build a lifestyle that won’t negatively impact the planet.

Images vis Shutterstock’s Environmentally Conscious Collection.


Photography as a Wake up Call

Sea Turtle
Sustainable living should be a way of life, not a trend. Image via Rich Carey.

When we say sustainable living, we’re not just talking about minimalist lifestyle images. We’re also talking about the environmental problems negatively affecting this planet. The toll of human actions. We’re talking about plastic pollution, too much mining and logging, unhealthy commuting. These things and more, when photographed well, can serve as a wake up call. Such stirring images can make the general public rethink their ways of living. And, most definitely, they can make both small businesses and big corporations rethink the way they do business.

Deforesting in the Mountains
Capture the unfortunate roles humans are taking part in destroying our natural habitat. Image via Amazing Aerial Agency.

Keep in mind that photography is not just all about fun and trying out the latest aesthetic trend. It’s also a powerful tool. It takes skill to capture the kind of images that make us stop and think, but when you nail that, your work has the kind of impact every photographer yearns for.

Toxic Waste
Documenting these atrocities will serve as a wake up call to the general public. Image via 24Novembers.

It All Starts with Inspiration

If you recently shifted to minimalist living or zero-waste living because of an influencer you’re following on Instagram, don’t feel bad about it. Don’t think you’re not being intentional enough. As long as your goal when making that shift is on the right path—causing less stress on Mother Nature—you’re fine.

Images vis Shutterstock’s Environmentally Conscious Collection.

With so many resources today, there’s no question that a lot of us start making changes because we get inspired by what we see on the internet. This doesn’t make you less of a person and it certainly doesn’t invalidate your good intentions. After all, practicing sustainable living is a learning progress. Plus, we all learn from each other’s experiences.

So, whether that’s an Instagram influencer, a New York Times Square billboard, or an article you saw on Facebook with a captivating feature photo, keep in mind that it all starts with inspiration.

Tiny House
Practicing sustainable living is a learning progress and it begins with inspiration. Image via Maya Claussen / Westend61.

Of course, this goes for photographers as well! If you’re thinking of doing more sustainable lifestyle shoots because of something you saw, by all means, go for it. Your photos could inspire more people, too.


Still Frames Signify One Step at a Time

Biodegradable Toothbrush
Making the shift to sustainable living can seem overwhelming, at first. Hang in there! Image via dmitriylo.

While making the shift sounds nice, a lot of people find it overwhelming. In fact, many folks who started sustainable living go back to their old habits because it can be too much. Photography’s other role is to remind us that it’s one step at a time. One small shift at a time.

Eco-friendly Cleaning Kit
Sustainable living doesn’t happen over night. Take it one step at a time. Image via Iryna Inshyna.

Images that capture the simplicity of sustainable living give people the impression that it’s easy. And, while it’s not always the case, such images are helpful in reminding us it can be easy if we do it slow. Make one tiny shift, practice it until it becomes part of our routine, then add another tiny shift. These small acts of change, often captured in today’s lifestyle photography, are perfect reminders that sustainable living won’t happen overnight. Rather, we make it happen one change after another.


It’s a Niche That’s Going to Stay

Man on E-Scooter
Keep in mind, sustainable living isn’t going away. It’s the way of the future. Image via Josep Rovirosa / Westend61.

So, is shooting sustainable living actually sustainable for your business as a photographer? The answer is definitely yes! We can say this with confidence because, now more than ever, we need stewards of nature. And, now more than ever, people are becoming more and more aware of how their actions impact the planet.

Reusable Net Bag
Remember, your work matters. And, because of that, it will sell. Image via Natalia Deriabina.

So, whether you’re shooting sustainable living images in a studio or you’re doing fieldwork and capturing the harrowing damage humans cause nature, your work matters. And, your work will sell. Because, normal citizens aren’t the only ones who want to make a difference. Companies and businesses are also realizing they can do better.

Images vis Shutterstock’s Environmentally Conscious Collection.


For more inspiration on sustainable living:

Cover image via ikrolevetc.

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Posted by News Monkey