Michael Piraino Headshot

Nature and landscape photographer; collector of "Places of Grace"

My interest in landscape and nature photography began in the film era, inspired by the writings of John Muir, the black and white photos of Ansel Adams, and by Eliot Porter’s classic monograph, In Wildness is the Preservation of the World. I still enjoy recreating some of the magnificence of black and white prints produced in the darkroom, but the digital age has opened superb new opportunities for creative and colorful photographic expression.

Growing up in small town Ohio, I discovered that the beauty and grace of the natural world surround us everywhere. Whether wandering with my dog across open fields in Ohio, hiking the birch woods of northern Michigan, canoeing in the Canadian bush, or staring up at the Cascades from my grandparents’ home in Washington—I entered all these places into my mind’s database of places that are full of grace.

After a three decade-long career advocating for children, I have now found the time to more fully explore new places and am excited to share them and meet other photographers doing amazing and inspiring work. Among my favorite subjects are the chiaroscuro of light and shadows on the land, the drama of cloud formations, the grace of flowing water, and the majesty of mountains.

Below is my personal code of ethics for photography:

Protection of the Environment

1. I inform myself about, and abide by, the rules and regulations relating to photography for any location I plan to photograph.

2. I take care to learn of the spiritual, cultural, and historical relationships native or other people may have to any area I plan to photograph, and respect those relationships while in the field.

3. I obtain a permit to photograph whenever one is required or if I am uncertain if it is required.

4. I review Leave No Trace principles before entering a natural or wilderness area and apply those principles while there.

5. I do not knowingly enter onto private property without permission even if the property appears abandoned, and I take reasonable steps to inform myself about what is private property.

6. I stay on designated paths and trails and take care to avoid trampling sensitive plants, especially in meadow and alpine areas. If there is no trail, I follow proper protocols for protection of the environment.

7. I avoid disturbing wild animals and birds, and respect that I am the guest in their habitat. I will not bait them and will leave the area if my presence appears to cause them distress.

8. I help to protect the environment by picking up trash I find in the field.

9. I do not uproot, prune, or otherwise damage plants in order to photograph a scene.

10. I will not broadcast the location of rare species or fragile areas, plants, or animals. When publishing photographs, I will not identify the exact location of sensitive natural areas if I believe it could lead to overuse and damage to the environment.

11. I avoid photographing if it is likely to result in other visitors unduly crowding the area.

12. I use my photography to support the work of noprofit organizations and government agencies that manage and advocate for the protection of the public lands I photograph. 

Socially Responsible Photography:

1. I obtain property and model releases whenever they are, or seem to be, necessary.

2. I ask permission before photographing identifiable people.

3. I treat all photographers and non-photographers with respect.

4. I am aware of how my presence may interfere with the ability of others around me to enjoy a scene, and will adjust my position or wait to photograph if necessary.

5. I act in a way that respects the serenity of the landscape.

6. If I observe violations of rules for protection of the environment by others, I will either respectfully ask them to stop or consider documenting any egregious situation and reporting it to the appropriate authorities.

Safety and Integrity

1. I take care not to put others at risk due to my actions while traveling to and photographing in the field. I know and respect my physical limitations and educate myself about potential hazards before going into the field.

2. I carry with me the ten essentials for any trip into wilderness areas.

3. I adhere to my own standards about post-processing, avoiding manipulations to produce scenes that did not and could not exist. I am forthcoming about the extent of my editing of photographs and do not represent my photographs as something they are not.

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