Colorado is one of the most picturesque states for a destination elopement or family photo session – and for good reason because it’s so incredibly breathtaking! However, in the years I’ve spent photographing families and couples as a Colorado elopement photographer, I’ve witnessed some disheartening things at some of my favorite outdoor locations (by other photographers and their clients – not my own!). I’ve spotted graffiti on some of the rocks at Lookout Mountain. Fake rose petals, rice, and confetti have been left behind after mountain elopement ceremonies. Gender reveals with smoke bombs have sparked forest fires. And that’s just the short list! Calling for sharing more about leave no trace and how we can each do out part!
Most of the families and couples who choose to work with me share my love for nature, but as an outdoor family and elopement photographer, it’s important that I do my part to bring awareness to “leave no trace” and share some ways we can keep our state looking beautiful for years to come!
Here are some tips to help “leave no trace” during your next family session or upcoming elopement–
Always prepare and plan ahead.
Research the location to learn about the weather you might encounter during your session, peak times for animal activity, any rules that are enforced at the location (such as national parks), and what dates or seasons are most popular. I like to avoid overcrowding the space in an effort to minimize damage to some of the most popular locations over time. Any educated family or elopement photographer will also assist you with this part of the process and guide you through anything you need to know in advance!
Consider the terrain and choose locations with durable surfaces.
Soil and plant life are extremely fragile and sensitive at elevations above the Rocky Mountain tree line, so please avoid walking freely through these areas to ensure they remain intact and to also help prevent any erosion. Instead, use trails whenever possible while and only venture out on durable surfaces for photos, such as rock, gravel, or bare ground.
Properly dispose of any waste.
Whether it’s your own waste or something you see while you’re taking in the scenery, be sure to toss it in the trash after your session to ensure we keep our state of Colorado looking pristine. A great tip is to bring along an extra bag (biodegradable is best!) to collect any trash and then throw the entire bag away at the conclusion of your session. (And if you choose to bring your dog along, don’t forget the poop bags!)
It’s also important to avoid throwing confetti, setting off gender reveal smoke bombs, or other rituals that would create unnecessary waste at the outdoor location you’ve chosen. I love a good champagne toast after an elopement ceremony – just remember to properly dispose of the cork!
Keep your session or elopement intimate.
Simply put – the smaller the group, the less impact on the terrain and the environment!
Avoid tagging the specific location on social media.
Some of the more popular outdoor locations have nearly been destroyed due to one viral tag on social media, or one geotag by a photographer looking to boost website traffic. To keep this from happening, use a generic location rather than a specific one, such as Rocky Mountains and include #leavenotrace at the end of your post to raise awareness.
Leave what you find.
While it may be tempting to take rocks, wildflowers, or other collectible bits of nature during your session (this is particularly tempting for little ones!), it’s important that we leave them behind for others to enjoy in the future.
Respect all wildlife.
Colorado is full of wildlife, so while we might feel eager to approach an elk or bison for a photo, it’s important to respect all the animals we might encounter during a session and give them space. This is for your safety, but also for the safety of the wild animals!
Be considerate of others.
If you’ve followed all of the tips on this list, you’re likely already doing this! When we choose to keep gatherings for family sessions and elopements small and intimate (and select dates that are less crowded when picking a location), dispose of waste, and generally respect mother nature and her wildlife, we’re allowing other visitors and future generations to enjoy it as well!
Leave no trace at your family session or elopement!!
For more information about my family photography sessions and elopement packages, I hope you’ll reach out and say hello! If you’d like to jump right in and book a session, head to my schedule to view my upcoming availability and book a date and time that works for you! I can’t wait to capture some of life’s most special moments together!