Emily Endean specializes in landscapes, nature and people. She usually chases the light and the weather around Dorset and Hampshire, near the coastal town of Bournemouth. Her images have been featured in local and national publications. When we reached out to her, she was kind enough to chat with us about how Nature First’s principles apply to her U.K. stomping grounds.
Tell us about yourself — how long have you been photographing? What are your favorite subjects? What fascinates you about nature photography?
Emily: At the age of four I moved to the beautiful seaside town of Bournemouth. It was not long after that I picked up my first camera. Urgency, deadlines and “clock time," as measured by hours, minutes and seconds, melt away, and photography becomes my escape from daily life. Once I am in that zone, I forget about the daily stresses of life, and there is nothing else apart from that moment. Seeing the conditions vary and taking in the excitement as a sky lights up with those otherworldly colors.... there is nothing quite like it.
How did you find out about Nature First, and why did you decide to join the Alliance?
Emily: I actually found out via my friend and fellow nature lover, Cissa Rego, who sent me a link to the Nature First website. As soon as I read the principles I just knew I had to sign up. The more I read the more I realized just how close to my heart it all was.
How do the Nature First principles apply to the places you photograph in the U.K.? Can you give us a few examples?
Emily: There are locations local to me here in the UK which, as the seasons change, present different photographic opportunities. Photography is a very popular hobby here, which is a fantastic thing. But with the rise of social media, that means that when these places become known, the masses descend. I’ve seen it all too often, people trampling wildflowers or scaring wildlife away. All of the Nature First principles apply here. From being conscious of prioritizing nature over the ‘shot’ and educating yourself on the area or the subject, to being discrete to prevent too much footfall causing distress to the area.
As you read through and thought about our principles, did you reflect on instances in the past where you have noticed nature photographers (maybe even yourself) having a less-than-desirable impact on the places you photographed, a sort of “lesson learned” a-ha moment?
Emily: I’ve always been a nature lover and for me, photography and nature go hand in hand. I have seen crops of poppies and wild bluebells being walked all over. I’ve even seen a modeling shoot going on in a field of poppies where the woman was laying on the floor and flattening the crop. It led to the farmer coming along, and he asked everyone to leave his land. He later sprayed and killed off the poppies to prevent any further attention.
How do you go about dealing with location information and requests for giving out that location information? That issue can be polarizing…
Emily: This is a very difficult one and causes a lot of backlash from people who want to know where the location is. I used to find it extremely awkward and replying to people individually apologizing but saying that I was unable to share that information. Now, as I post an image on social media, I may say, ‘Please don’t ask me where this is, as its private land’. I find explaining things from the outset prevents these types of questions. I do hope that once I have explained things, that people will appreciate where I am coming from, and I have on occasions received a great response.
One of our principles is to educate yourself about the places you shoot in. How do you go about that? Do you have any advice for other photographers?
Emily: I generally do a lot of research if I am traveling to a new area: The best places to photograph, the history surrounding them — I’m fascinated in learning about the places I shoot and how they have changed over time. To imagine the people that have trod the paths before me can be incredibly moving indeed!
Talk a little bit about your favorite experiences photographing out in nature in the U.K.?
Emily: For me, the highlight of photographing the landscape in the UK is watching it change through the seasons. From icy ponds, frozen grass and the occasional dusting of snow, to spring bluebells, summer poppies, sunflowers and an abundance of green foliage everywhere, to the turn of colors and everything being a beautiful burnt orange and golden brown – then starting all over again. I absolutely love to shoot the seasons here in the UK, which are forever changing!
Are you aware of other efforts like Nature First that are going on in the U.K.?
Emily: No, I’m not familiar with any other alliances such as Nature First! You have my support as an ambassador here in the UK as I’m sure you do from others. It would be great to see this going from strength to strength across the globe!
We want to educate folks about the impacts we as photographers have, but we also want to avoid nature photographers getting a bad reputation. Instead, let's focus on the bright side! What’s your take: Do we as nature photographers serve a greater good other than our own, selfish pleasure?
Emily: I do believe all photographers representing our beautiful surroundings are doing something wonderful. Being able to capture the most breathtaking of scenes when the light is at its best, shows everyone just how amazing the world can be. There is a lot of negativity in the world, and to be able to remind everyone just how beautiful nature is, is a responsibility that I love to share with my fellow nature photographers. I’ve had people visit certain places off the back of seeing my images because it reminded them what wonderful places we have right on our doorstep. That’s the biggest compliment of all — that my image made them go out and enjoy nature.
All photos in this article were provided by Emily Endean Photography.
You can get in touch with Emily through her various platforms: