Environmental commitment and cultural sensitivity isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are.
What is “environmental commitment”? Protecting and preserving the earth, supporting local industry and honoring Alaska’s first people has been a priority since day one of business at Alaska Photo Treks. After all, it is the beauty of this world that inspires us! We want to support an approach that ensures to preserve that beauty for our guests and future generations. Every aspect of our operation is designed to tread lightly and respectfully, from administrative work to photography tours and workshops afield. Saying we have an environmental commitment is not enough. We believe conscientious contributions add up quickly, such as running a paperless company, eschewing disposable plastic, and rolling up our sleeves to help clean roadsides, scenic viewpoints and parks. We offer professional photography services pro bono to non-profit organizations doing positive environmental and social projects, and seek out partnerships with companies who are equally committed to being good stewards of the environment. Together, we make a difference.
Alaska Photo Treks is proud to be recognized as a sustainable tourism business with an Adventure Green Alaska Certification from the Alaska Travel Industry Association. Started in 2009, Adventure Green is Alaska’s only sustainable tourism certification. While many of the requirements for the certification are fairly straightforward (comply with laws regarding your operations and be a member of a tourism association), it is the final commitment that can be boiled down simply to “do no harm to that places we love.” So many public places are being “loved to death,” we are proud to do our part to take good care to ensure our operations do not impede the ability of future visitors to visit and fall in love with the beauty of Alaska. And operating as a sustainable tourism business, we hope to help make Alaska better for Alaskans as well.
Alaska Photo Treks is also pleased to be a part of the tourism community that contributes to the Renewable Energy Alaska Program’s (REAP) Tour Green program. The Tour Green initiative provides an opportunity for residents and visitors to Alaska the ability to support renewable energy development in Alaska. How we participate is through providing the opportunity for each guest to add a $2 contribution during their booking process. Alaska Photo Treks then forwards those contributed funds to REAP, which uses them to education, training, and advocacy designed to improve Alaska’s renewable energy profile.
We also recognize that while photographers through history have had a role in promoting conservation, two things have changed the role and impact of photographers on natural spaces in today’s environment: digital photography and social media. These two factors have impacted the photographer-nature relationship in a variety of ways, from increasing pressure and competition to compelling others to replicate photos. This has now taken us to a place where photographers are helping to “love to death” some places. So, aside from being a “green business,” we promote ethical photography in our business with our guests. We follow the published ethical principles of the North American Nature Photography Association: Environmental Protection, Ethical Field Principles, and Truth in Captioning. We also follow the principles of Nature First, an organization that recognizes that visitors in general and photographers particularly are causing “tangible, extensive, and progressively worsening negative impacts on nature. The Nature First principles are similar to some of the NANPA ethical guidelines:
1. Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
2. Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
3. Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
4. Use discretion if sharing locations.
5. Know and follow rules and regulations.
6. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
7. Actively promote and educate others about these principles.