I’m an eco-friendly professional photographer. In my business, I’m constantly surprised at the number of requests I still get for photographic prints. I had originally assumed that – with the easy accessibility of digital cameras and home printers – professional photo printing in large quantities, would be almost obsolete…
Well, I was wrong. Many, many clients (wedding clients in particular) still think they need dozens or even hundreds of printed photos.
So I do my best to give people a bit more information about the importance of making informed choices before getting photo prints made:
- Storing your photos on your computer (and backing them up on DVD and/or CD) is more cost effective and more ecologically sound than paying for several hundred printed photos you may never even use.
- If you want to share your pictures, these days it’s so easy to post them online or to email your favourites to your friends and family. This not only saves you time and energy, it also saves you money!
In addition to the financial benefits, the ecological reasons are pretty compelling as well…
- It’s been known for years that the chemicals it takes to develop and print photos are toxic. As is the process for making the paper to print them on. That paper is chemically treated in a variety of ways and photo-paper is not known for being recyclable or recycled.
- Film itself is responsible for a large contribution to environmental pollution. Most especially because of the emissions of methylene chloride, which is a solvent used in the making of photographic film. Very, very toxic.
- Then there’s the processing. For every roll of 24 film prints, at least 4 ounces of chemicals get poured down the drain during the processing. Down the drain means in our water systems and leaching out into the soil.
- Silver is also used in the processing of film. As a matter of fact, around 40% of all the silver consumed in North America has been used to make photographic materials. Silver is discharged from film processors, such as photo labs and hospital x-ray units, in the form of sewer sludge. Silver ions can be more toxic to water organisms than mercury.
- Now all this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get any prints made at all. Of course you’ll want to have a few pictures printed for framing, but when you receive your photos in digital format, all you need to do is choose just a few shots to be professionally printed, instead of dozens. Or you can even do your own printing at home.
- Another really great thing about having your images in digital format is that they’ll last forever. Film images will deteriorate over the years. However, your digital images can be safely archived indefinitely without ever losing quality.
So does such a simple choice really make a difference? Yes. More than you might think…
Recently,the Stockholm Water Authority in Sweden noted that the rise of digital photography was a major reason why silver pollution had diminished by half in the city’s sewers in just five years.
Proof that making educated decisions even about something as basic as your photos, really does have a positive effect on the environment!
More information and examples of ‘green photography’ can be found on my website: Tamea Burd Photography