Ruta Saksens Kalmane
SUSTAINABILITY AND MINDFUL PHOTOGRAPHY
Updated: Feb 28
According to Simon Veith, “Sustainable photography is working holistically as a photographer” (2021), and not specifically focusing on only limiting the physical environmental impact. Therefore, the sustainability of this project can be assessed by looking at the following two categories: the environmental impact of practicing photography and the values of the practice.
Firstly, not only as a practitioner within the field of creative industries, but also as an inhabitant of the planet we all share and which is currently experiencing significant climate changes due to greenhouse gases, I believe it is my duty to comply with the political commitment between all European countries that is set forward by the European Commission to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 in order to become climate neutral by 2050 which in turn will improve our planet’s climate as much as the global economy. To begin with, it must be admitted that digital photography causes environmental pollution, such as electronic waste, pollution caused by producing camera parts and SD memory cards, and, moreover, cameras and batteries have a limited life span. Such factors as a digital camera production and electric power supply are beyond my control, however, since the global market works on a demand-and-supply principle, I believe I can make a difference by choosing green suppliers, hence helping to reduce the demand for products offered by environmentally unfriendly businesses. To make my practice more sustainable, I commit to the following environmentally friendly initiatives:
- Being a part of circular economy. For this project I plan to use a high-quality second-hand camera, used for taking photographs in different ways, such as reversing a lens for macro photography purposes (instead of getting an additional macro lens) and using a pinhole body cap (Fig. 1). I also plan to exchange my current environmentally unfriendly ink cartridge printer with a second-hand eco-printer that uses environmentally-friendly inks.
Fig. 1: Kalmane Saksens 2022. The Bush Monster hunting for prey [pinhole body cap on a digital camera]
- Choosing green suppliers that are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lessening the carbon footprint. I plan to use equipment produced by such suppliers as NIKON (camera for taking images), DELL (laptop for post-processing, mirroring and montaging images (Fig. 2.)) and EPSON (eco-printer for printing book pages) that are well-known for being committed to sustainable business strategies. I also use an electricity supplier that provides 100% green energy.
Fig. 2. Kalmane Saksens 2022. The forest’s prison [digital photomontage]
- Using recycled and recyclable materials. For developing a physical copy of the book I plan to use hand-made organic and recycled papers and an organic thread for bounding.
- Practicing photography locally. I plan to take images in the territory of my own property (which is a part of a bigger forest area) and its direct walking-distance surroundings, thus there is no environmental impact caused by travelling.
Secondly, just like street photographer Matt Stuart, who goes into the field with nothing but his “small camera, patience and lots of optimism” (2022) and immerses himself in the environment that he photographs, which in return helps him to notice witty juxtapositions of objects and to observe forms and shapes of objects (Fig. 3), my practice is also driven by mindful photography principles. For this project I plan not only to practice photography locally, but also spend a great amount of time in the location that will be photographed as “the more time we commit to looking, the keener our eye becomes and the more often we discover rewards hidden in plain sight” (Sophie Howarth 2022: 8).
Fig. 3: Stuart 2013. Wrentham Avenue, London [photographic image]
It is the approach to photography that makes the difference. Instead of taking massive amount of images that will most likely end up in external memory cards thus increasing electric waste, I plan to carry out this project in a mindful way, planning photoshoots beforehand, after taking time to observe objects, which, I believe, will result in discovering new meanings through shapes and forms of natural objects (Fig.4).
Fig.4: Kalmane Saksens 2022. Oak tree’s glasses [pair of digital photographic images]
At the same time it will help to reduce taking unnecessary images thus prolonging the longevity of a digital camera, as well as gives me time to discover objects that otherwise would be left unnoticed, echoing Albert Camus’s philosophy that “the artist chooses his object as much as he is chosen by it” (2018: 21).
CAMUS, Albert. 2018. Create Dangerously. UK: Penguin Random House.
HOWARTH, Sophie.2022. The Mindful Photographer. UK and USA: Thames & Hudson Inc.
STUART, Matt. 2022. Bio. From Matt Stuart [online]. 2022. Available at: https://www.mattstuart.com/about-1 [accessed October 6, 2022].
VEITH, Simon. 2021. Interviewed by Michel Grünberger in 17goalsmagazin [online]. Available at: https://www.17goalsmagazin.de/en/sustainable-photography-business-model-simon-veith/ [accessed October 6, 2022].
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. The Bush Monster hunting for prey [pinhole body cap on a digital camera].
Figure 2: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. The forest’s prison [digital photomontage].
Figure 3: STUART, Matt. 2013. Wrentham Avenue, London [photographic image]. From Sophie Howarth.2022. ‘The Mindful Photographer’ (p.52). UK and USA: Thames & Hudson Inc.
Figure 4: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. Oak tree’s glasses [pair of digital photographic images].