It’s important that any couple who work with me knows that I am a Leave No Trace Photographer and also has an idea of what this will mean in actual practice. So, first things first: what’s Leave No Trace (LNT)? In a nutshell, Leave No Trace (LNT) are guiding principles and ethics to help maintain and protect the wild places and wild life that call those places home.
Here’s a really great resource for anyone wanting more in depth info on Leave No Trace. https://lnt.org
So why are these principles I care about and follow? I LOVE this totally bananas planet. I realize I, as well as my couples, are 100% benefiting from the beauty of this place (because I take photos and recreate in the outdoors) and it’s very important to me that I be a good steward and return the favor of mother nature being so rad, hence me being a Leave No Trace Photographer.
So what does this mean for you?
First and foremost, I do my best to follow these principles while on a shoot. I for sure make mistakes but in general, do my best and encourage the people I’m with to do the same. What does this look like in action? Here’s an example:
Cryptobiotic soil is this really amazing crust that holds the desert together and keeps the whole desert from blowing away. Sounds cool, right? I like the desert, you like the desert, neither of us want it to blow away.
Here’s the thing though, crypto is SUPER fragile and takes a super super long time to grow. It is an actual living organism and when we step on it, we kill it. Not so cool. So! What this means is, if I’m working with a couple and we’re likely to run into some crypto, I educate my couples on what crypto is, what it looks like, and why it’s so important to not step on it. Long before the shoot even happens. Then, when we get to the shoot location, we all go on a field trip together and take a look at some crypto in person. It’s honestly super cool! Once we’re all on the same page, we all know what it looks like now, we set off on our adventure, and we… just don’t step on the crypto. This means sticking to the trail (yes, even if there’s a really cool shot just over there off the trail next to that crypto, no one will ever know. Look. I know. I want that super awesome shot, too and it hurts my soul when I can’t grab it. But it hurts more to destroy a hundreds year old organism that’s literally holding one of the coolest places on earth together.)
So! You can expect me to provide location specific education on durable vs non-durable surfaces prior to our shoot. I don’t expect you to know everything; I’m here to provide that info. So if you pop a bottle of champagne we gotta find that cork and pack it out. If we throw confetti, every piece of that confetti will have to be picked up (so… think very hard if you want that confetti, haha). If a bloom falls off your bouquet, I’ll pick it up and put it in my pack since most flowers aren’t native to our elopement destinations.
I’m also a big fan of being prepared. We are hanging out in Mother Nature’s playground and she doesn’t care what the weather forecast is or what the plans are. Part of LNT is to plan ahead- which means we’ll have a plan for your elopement location as well as a plan for your backup location and your second backup location. I will have my Mary Poppins bag of Adventure Wedding Supplies (including such things like hairspray, bear spray, yaktrax, safety pins, gloves, blankets, tide to-go sticks, water, snacks, snacks, more snacks, a wine key, and the greatest of all inventions, hand/toe warmers). Your comfort and safety is my number one priority and we need to be very self reliant if we’re going to respecting the place we’re hanging out in.
What this also means, is that after your session I will not geotag the specific place we were at on social media or in the blog post. This is a tough concept and a tough call to make- I love these wild places and I want other folks to enjoy them, too. I don’t want to seem secretive or elitist or snobbish. AND. I have seen a lot of places be absolutely devastated by a sudden, or even gradual, increase of visitors. It’s heartbreaking to see the changes at Horseshoe Bend or Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (which is actually fully closed to humans to allow the ecosystem to recover). And if I’m being super blunt and honest, I care more about protecting those places than I do about if I seem secretive on social media.
What this boils down to is that as your adventure wedding and elopement photographer your experience is paramount, second only to safety. Your safety and the safety of all living things around you. That includes wild life, plants, and microscopic organisms like crypto. And I PROMISE we will still have a blast and a half while following Leave No Trace.
— Ryan + Styhiln