Katoomba-based photographer Tracy Ponich is the first individual artist to become a member of the Low Carbon Living program, winning a gold LCL rating for sustainable art practices and modelling a carbon neutral lifestyle that is not only possible but is “simply a way of life now”. Tracy manages every aspect of her photographic print’s creation - capturing, processing, printing, publishing and exhibiting – ensuring that her carbon footprint is consistently negligible and proving environmental compromise has its rewards.

Pangolin Associates, a sustainability, energy and carbon management company, measures Tracy’s carbon footprint (and that produced by her suppliers) and calculates the emissions in tonnes, which may then be offset with certified carbon credits. Carbon credit projects eliminate or prevent greenhouse gases and allow individuals and businesses to claim carbon neutrality due to their ‘net zero emissions’.

Tracy’s Feathermark Photography studio creates limited edition photographic prints primarily of the Blue Mountains environment, but her subject matter extends to gardens, landscapes, street scenes and portraitures. Transitions, ‘a sustainable exhibition’, is her latest endeavour currently viewed at Leura’s Everglades Historic House & Gardens. This is the fruition of a year-long collaboration, interpreting seasonal and climatic change at the gardens and in part, a photographic eulogy to Paul Sorensen, the property’s original landscape/garden designer.

In a concerted effort to be sustainable in each and every pursuit, the Transitions exhibition is a carbon neutral event, taking into account transportation, set-up, print development, book and document production, food and drink suppliers for the exhibit opening, energy usage during the exhibition period and advertising. Prints were framed by Hope Tree Framing in Wentworth Falls using Australian timber and packaged in recycled paper and Springwood Printing Company printed the accompanying book. Ross Hill Wines (certified carbon neutral winery), 4 Pies Beers (BCorp accredited), Logan Brae Orchards(locally organic) and silver LCL-BM members Lyttleton Stores (locally organic) were among the food and drinks suppliers.

Canadian-born Tracy has been acutely aware of climate change for many years. Having travelled extensively with her husband, and once settling in the Blue Mountains, the couple, in partnership, “decided to reduce our carbon footprint through our choices in life, including every product we purchase, (and) all of our actions”.  The goal is simply to be carbon neutral. Solar panels installed at their home in 2015 generate a daily average of 14KWH (24KWH on exceptionally sunny days), supplying up to 80% of daily energy usage including Tracy’s Feathermark garden studio and a plug-in hybrid electric SUV vehicle (PHEV). Future investment in a second array will compensate for the difference.

The PHEV is suitable for transporting photographic equipment and off-road location shoots. The solar panels recharge the car via an external power point convenient for local trips. Designated charge stations, Charge Point, throughout the state, supply electricity for longer excursions. The NRMA have announced plans to introduce charge stations in the Blue Mountains with its first roll-out.

Feathermark studio is fitted with energy efficient lighting, heating and essential photographic equipment. All waste is recycled, packaging avoided, and necessary cellophane sleeves for cards are plant-based and compostable. Tracy develops her prints with an environmentally friendly Epson wide format printer and offsets unavoidable emissions with certified forest conservation carbon credits.

“No one can eliminate all emissions, the only way to ‘neutralise’ one’s carbon footprint is to offset with globally certified carbon credits and it doesn’t matter where these come from” explains Tracy. Tracy’s current preferences are a biodiversity corridor conservation in WA, avoiding deforestation in Tasmania, overseas projects such as WithOneSeed in Timor-Leste, solar energy in Southern India. Tracy suggests selecting a portfolio of initiatives that suitably align with the investing business and researching globally, keeping in mind how better to sustain communities and create jobs. “The planet doesn’t care where we reduce emissions through offsetting, just that it is effectively done”.

Tracy also funds managed reforestation projects in Australia. For each photographic print sold, an Australian native is planted through Trees for Life. For this Transition’s exhibition, 30 trees were planted in conjunction with the exhibit and the production of the Australian Heritage Festival and Sydney’s Head on Festival later in the year.