While many people strive for Instagram fame lured by the promise of endorsements and a life in the Internet spotlight, natural spaces which earn the distinction often don’t fare so well.

Over the past several years, there’s been something of a budding crisis in landscape photography as beautiful and iconic locations get trampled and despoiled by people looking to populate their feeds with their own images of these spots. (The parable of the Broccoli Tree is an excellent example.) Instagram’s location-sharing feature in particular has helped drive human foot traffic to places that have traditionally not seen human visitation at scale.

Now, a group of nature photographers is hoping to reverse the trend with Nature First, an alliance of photographers who agree to adhere to seven foundational principles:

  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.
  8. According to Nature First, the combination of location-sharing details on social media combined with a sharp rise in visitation to national parks and a “lack of widespread knowledge of basic stewardship practices and outdoor ethics” has led to the deterioration of our wild spaces.

The Nature First alliance is free to join. The organization is hoping to raise awareness by using the hashtag #naturefirst and by having landscape photographers add personal statements to their websites in support of Nature First Principles.

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