Sustainable Photography: Ideas for Running a Green Studio

Business owner Tyson Ellis has always seen a relationship between buildings and the environment, and his photography business has tried to highlight those connections in their eco-architectural photography. “All architecture relates to the environment. Hopefully it relates in a harmonious way that benefits the environment, the structure, and its occupants. Capturing this is where I thrive…”

His interest in environmental connections extends beyond his photographs though, and sustainability also informs his business practices. As Ellis has discovered, photography studios have a number of special considerations that make them a unique industry when going green. Here are some of the steps he’s taken, which can be great ideas for greening your own business:

Effective and adjustable lighting is more demanded in photography than perhaps any other industry, and energy bills have the potential to become a significant portion of overhead costs. Ellis has not only switched to energy-efficient options throughout his studio, but he also strives to use only natural lighting whenever possible in his work. Using CFL and LED technology can reduce your lighting costs by over 70 percent, and both are found in a wide range of shapes, strength, and color temperatures (color temperature is the “feel” of a bulb, from the low “yellow” temperature of incandescent-style lighting, to the high “white” temperature of full spectrum bulbs).

By using timers on some lighting and electronic equipment, Ellis has even further reduced his utility costs. Shutting off lighting and equipment after hours, and eliminating the “standby power” drawn by electronic devices when they’re not in use can further reduce your business’ electrical bills too.

For contact with clients, Ellis uses paperless communication techniques to avoid any unnecessary paper waste (and expense). You can accomplish the same goal by communicating with clients primarily through phone and email, using digital proofs, and offering online invoicing and payment (which makes the process simpler for both clients and your studio).

Waste reduction can extend even further by considering the many items in photography that can be reused or recycled. Use rechargeable battery packs for equipment, or be sure to recycle any disposable batteries. Ellis now also uses refillable ink cartridges, and enjoys exploring new ways of reducing his waste stream (which makes for more efficient business operations).

Off-site photography can involve considerable travel, and Ellis only travels when necessary. Teleconferencing is now an increasingly easy option for client consultations (with many alternatives that include online screen sharing, digital portfolios, and other solutions for showing your work to potential clients remotely). For times when travel is required, consider using a hybrid (or electric) vehicle in traveling to shoots, and offset your emissions with carbon credits to minimize your carbon footprint.

Ellis found that his most significant barrier to going green was finding the information he needed to take his next steps. “Research was the only challenge, trying to increase my knowledge and increasing my awareness about what I could do to become more eco-friendly.” Ellis overcame this obstacle with the help of the Green Business Bureau, which provides a turnkey solution to the information challenge, offering detailed online initiatives with opportunities to track progress towards particular green goals.

As a green business, Tyson seeks out sustainability-oriented projects, and loves talking to other business owners and clients about going green. His studio’s reputation for sustainability has attracted new clients, and Ellis states that his green initiatives have definitely helped him to grow his business. “More and more people are getting involved in the shift toward being more aware. It definitely feels good to know that I am doing my part.”

About Marcos Cordero

Marcos J. Cordero is the co-founder and CEO of the Green Business Bureau, a leading green business certification organization that helps small and mid-sized businesses implement sustainability practices.
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