How I'm making Carla Thomas Photography more susatainable and environmentally friendly

I haven’t spoken or shared much about my business practices and how I work to reduce my environmental footprint. I’ve been reducing my impact on the environment over the years both in my personal life and business.

As a photographer, I am constantly looking for ways I can embrace sustainability and reduce the waste created in my business. Below are a few ways I’m making my business more environmentally friendly.

Client communication, products and delivery

Create digital contracts, invoices and brochures

In today’s age, we are lucky to have access to so many virtual and digital services that make our lives easier and reduce waste. Instead of printing out brochures or informational guides for my clients, I share information through digital guides. Not only does this save paper, but this also saves space in clients’ homes. They can store the brochure or guide on their computer and find it with a quick search, instead of worrying about misplacing a paper version.

Every client also has a personal website portal where I add everything related to their booking with me including guides, galleries, invoices and anything else they may need during our time together. Having all their information in one location means one less thing to stress about and no more searching. I also create digital contracts for signing and storing online, making organisation easier for me and reducing printing and paper use.

Reuse album boxes

Product packaging is one of the biggest sources of waste in photography. When I post wedding albums, I reuse the packaging used by my album company. They package the albums so well to protect them on their journey that it makes little sense to use anything else. Once I’ve checked the album is perfect, I remove as much of the original label as possible, add a treat or two, before sending the album home to its forever home. I also use eco-friendly kraft packing tape to seal boxes, making them easier to recycle. Did you know normal Sellotape can’t be recycled? Neither did I! I now make sure it’s removed from anything I put in the recycling bin.

Deliver photos in online galleries

Over the years I have moved from CDs, DVDs to USBs when delivering photos to my clients along with an online gallery. As we know, technology is constantly changing and fewer computers come with USB or DVD drives now as standard.

To reduce the reliance on ever-changing technology and to make sure I’m delivering photos to my clients in a way I know they can access regardless of the type of computer they have, I now deliver their photos via their private online gallery. While it makes it very easy for them to share photos with loved ones, it’s hassle-free and they can access galleries from any computer, further reducing environmental impact.

Suppliers and equipment

Partner and work with sustainable suppliers

I’m a huge believer in prints and albums, and to reduce the environmental impact these physical products will have, I have chosen suppliers who share my sustainable vision and goals. Folio, who supply my wedding albums and other items, are based in the UK. They have a sustainability page on their website that outlines all the steps they take to reduce their environmental impact not just in their work practices, but also in the products they produce. Their delivery partners also have a carbon-neutral approach.

Nikon, my camera supplier of choice, also share the work they are doing as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on their website.

Reuse and recycle old equipment

Photographers can sometimes be magpies, always wanting the latest camera gear and gadget, myself included. Buying new every time has an impact in terms of packaging, postage, etc. Many items in my camera bag are secondhand. I regularly have them maintained to ensure they are in working order.

Any item no longer used, I try to repurpose. If not, it gets donated or sold, so not add it to the landfill.

Travel

Reduce power consumption

I pay attention to how much energy I consume each day. Digital photography takes up a lot of power, from computers to printers to cameras and lighting equipment. I only use rechargeable batteries to avoid using single-use batteries. I also turn off equipment when it’s not in use and avoid turning on lights or using anything that isn’t necessary for a shot.

At home to further reduce our impact on the environment, we use Bulb Energy who are the UK’s largest green energy supplier. They are cheaper than the Big Six Energy Suppliers and have a quote tool on their website so you can see how much you would save if you switch. To be completely transparent, if you sign up with my link, we will get money off our bill, but then so will you!

Travel green

This can be a hard one as a photographer and the amount of equipment we sometimes have to carry around with us, but where I can, I rely on public transportation. If required to travel between venues, I’ll travel with the wedding party. Could mean more fun and relaxed photos! So you win too!

Where I need to fly, I now calculate the carbon emissions using climatecare.org. I then offset the flight emissions by donating to environmentally friendly initiatives. These can range from tree planting to education initiatives.

Leave no trace

When shooting outside, I don’t want to leave any litter behind, but I also want to avoid causing any damage to the environment to get that perfect shot. I try to travel as light as possible, taking only what gear I need, and make sure we all stay on the designated paths to minimise any damage. Nature is beautiful, and I want to keep it that way!

New for 2021

Clients who book with me from this year forward, get a little extra treat. I will plant and dedicate a tree to them in the National Forest. They receive a digital certificate with their names and a personal message. The feedback has been fantastic, so far!

I know there is always more I can do, but hope you’ve found this helpful to find out how I’m reducing my impact on the environment. If you want some ideas of how to plan a sustainable and eco-friendly wedding, I wrote a blog post just for you.

Do you have any ideas of how I can make my business even greener? I’d love to know. Send me an email with all and any ideas.