Pretty much since I took up photography about 11 years ago now, it's provided me with a wonderful opportunity to use my photography to give back, from donating 12 images to The Samaritans for them to create a calendar of images with inspirational quotes that went on to raise thousands of pounds for one of their local branches, to donating profits from print sales to a local foodbank to help people who are struggling to get by in difficult times, and lots of other things in between. It's been a privilege and an honour to be able to get involved with and support these community projects that have helped people.
For a long time I've wanted to do more for the environment too - conservation was, after all, where my passion for volunteering started when I was a welly-boot wearing, bucket and spade toting teenager. A group of us used to spend Friday afternoons with wardens on a local nature reserve helping with various manual tasks. We dug ponds, coppiced woodland, scythed reed beds and ate lots of biscuits and drank many cups of tea. In my early 20s I used to go on National Trust working holidays and, when I was 28, some life-changes gave me the opportunity to go to Australia and take part in an Earthwatch project 'Marsupial Rescue' (I made sure to offset my carbon from the trip!) - it felt like taking part in a David Attenborough nature documentary, our address was Kangaroo Court, Useless Loop near Shark Bay, Western Australia - best address and experience ever! For my 30th birthday I treated myself to another Earthwatch trip, this time volunteering at The Natural History Museum - basically pretending to be a very clever scientist, it was fantastic!
In addition, my Open University Geography Degree studies included modules that had an environmental theme, including 'Environmental Policy in an International Context'. Sustainability, conservation and protecting the environment are things I'm passionate about - so, as someone who's had a small business for about 5 years now, it's about time I made that business sustainable - and there are plenty of tools out there to support businesses to do this now so I can get cracking!
Inspired by Ingram Valley GB I've registered to find out more about The Planet Mark - I don't know if my business is too small to join them and gain Planet Mark certification, but the only way to find out is to join and ask!
I've also been inspired BrewDog (I'm now a shareholder) - my goal is to make my photography business carbon-negative and to see what else I can do - I want to be sustainable+.
Ingram Valley Farm and BrewDog are leading the way - I've learnt a lot from seeing what they do and intend to follow their lead, to help make our world a better and more sustainable place, with all the benefits for the environment and for us that come with that.
First step was registering with The Planet Mark to find out more about their programme.
Second step is I've set up a Just Giving Page linked to the Woodland Trust - I would love to plant trees but don't have land, so I will donate a proportion of my profits to help them plant trees instead.
Third step is - watch this space!
Here's my new Just Giving: Woodland Trust fundraising page
This is all very exciting stuff - and I can't wait to see where this journey takes my business - I love taking and sharing photographs that show the beauty of the natural world around us, so it makes sense that I would want to use my photography to contribute to keeping the world around us beautiful too.