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WorkCabin Creative is about having a genuine connection to conservation and our conservation clients. It's about walking the talk and understanding the language of what we film and produce for organizations big and small. WorkCabin Creative's difference is why leading conservation organizations choose WorkCabin Creative, Ontario, Canada's Conservation Media House.
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Ethics and Conservation Filmmaking

Ethical conservation filmmaking and photography

Ethics and Conservation Filmmaking

I often talk about shared values with the organizations that I do filmmaking work for. But what does that mean?

Being ethical and being a conservation filmmaker or photographer go hand in hand, as they both play a vital role in preserving the environment, building trust, and promoting sustainable practices. By upholding ethical standards, you contribute to a more informed and responsible approach to conservation, making a positive impact on both the natural world and the audiences who engage with your work.

It’s good to see more and more conservation organizations not sourcing imagery from photographers or filmmakers who bait animals for the sake of capturing the shot. Of course there are exceptions to food as an attractant: If a video or film is about birds at birdfeeders then birds feeding on birdseed at feeders is part of the story and makes perfect sense.

Capturing true depictions of nature takes time and patience. And in the end, it gets to the fundamental root of being authentic and genuine.

Here are three reasons why true conservation filmmakers and photographers stand out and why they are in demand today among organizations with the same shared values.

Accuracy

By following ethical guidelines, you ensure the accurate representation of wildlife, ecosystems, and conservation efforts. This helps raise awareness among viewers and encourages them to take action to protect and preserve these valuable natural resources for future generations.

Trust

By maintaining integrity, honesty, and transparency in your work, you establish a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy filmmaker. This trust is essential for creating meaningful partnerships, securing funding, and influencing policy decisions that can drive positive environmental change. Using the phrase Live and Breathe what you do may be a cliche but it really is a 360-degree way of thinking when you work in the conservation field to tell stories, and most importantly, for being in tune with what you do.

Sustainability

Being ethical means promoting sustainable practices throughout the filmmaking process. This includes considering the environmental impact of your filmmaking and photography activities. For exampe, when I’m doing aerial filming along a lakeshore area, one of my first concerns in spring especially is the presence of nesting bald eagles. Firstly, a drone never fares well in an encounter with a bald eagle. But more importantly, creating an aerial disturbance around nesting wildlife is not an ethical practice. When closeups of wildlife are required, true professional conservation filmmakers and photographers use long lenses. Now, granted, sometimes wildlife grace us with their close presence on their terms. That is an exception. But bragging on social media that you were able to chase down an animal either on land or underwater and have your camera lens bumping the nose of a wild animal for a closeup shot is unethical. Doing these kinds of shots just to get Likes on social media is even worse by making this kind of behaviour a popularity contest. By leading by example, you inspire others in the industry to adopt sustainable practices, contributing to a broader movement of environmentally conscious filmmaking and photography.

Gregg McLachlan
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