Not posting the location of an image

Not posting the location of an image
(Richard Teller) #1

There is a lot of discussion about the amount of people going to, especially iconic, locations and starting to cause a lot of damage, both intentional and unintentional. Photographers are being asked not to share where their photos were taken to help stop some of the traffic. Also to stop some of the over crowding at these sites i.e. Schwabacher Landing in the fall at sunrise. I have no problem with this request.

One of my very favorite place to photograph is Grand Teton National Park. I was just out there for a few days this fall and did not go to Schwabacher or Oxbow Bend at sunrise. I sought out other places that I had never been before and got some images I was very happy with. Also the time of year I go out there. My wife and I went out in April. I had to hike from the highway down to Schwabacher at sunrise because the road was still blocked by snow. I had the whole place to myself for three hours. I watched the beaver working in the pond, photographed the mountains by moon light and got some nice sunrise images.

It is not just the people with cell phones and pocket cameras that are the problem. I was at Grand Teton National Park in the fall one year. At Gros Ventre camp ground there was a bull moose lying down near the river and a couple of cows a little further back in the trees. I counted 40 photographers, a good share of them with very large lens, in a semi circle at the required 25 yards just waiting for the moose to get up and do something. I felt foolish standing there like the paparazzi around the moose so I left. I found some pronghorns with no one else around and got some nice images.

I agree with not posting the exact location of an image. I don’t know if I will leave out the general location like the name of a national park. I think we as photographers need to take some responsibility for our actions and be leaders in not over populating the most iconic locations or in advertising other places so they are turned in to over populated iconic places. Let other people enjoy the thrill of discovery in finding their own iconic locations.

(Harley Goldman) #2

Everywhere seems to be getting more and more crowded with photographers. I find myself going to less iconic and more remote locations to get quiet time. I would rather enjoy the moment than nail the trophy image. I can definitely see how not sharing locations can help the minimize the throngs and accompanying damage.

(Preston Birdwell) #3

I think a very general location such as, ‘Grand Teton National Park’, ‘Yosemite National Park’, ‘Sierra Nevada’, Wyoming, California, etc. is OK. Giving specific locales and best time to be there, and specific directions on how to get to a spot are not OK.

There are lots of apps out there that give very specific information, including GPS coordinates. I have no issue with folks wanting to make a buck by building such an app, but I think they lead toward overcrowding at iconic spots. The same kinds of info are posted on FB, Instagram, etc…

I agree with Harley’s comments.

The same kind of crowding occurs at climbing areas. There are lots of apps, web posts, and guidebooks that have led to severe overcrowding at climbing spots. I used to tell people about routes I had put up in the Sierra, but decided I would no longer do that. I wanted people to discover these routes on their own. Funny thing is, some of the routes I did first ascents of years ago are now in guidebooks, and I certainly didn’t give out the info.

Today, I do not share specific photo info, other than a general location.

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(Hank Pennington) #4

That’s my wife and I in a nutshell.

(Paul Breitkreuz) #5

Richard, it is a real downer with head count issues no matter where we go anymore. Your point hit home about Grand Teton NP. Although I’ve been there about 15 times over the years one was extra memorable for me in a negative way. I was setup with about 3-4 folks over the wall at Snake River Overlook. Back then during sunrise netted no more then about 5-10 folks max. Anyway, as we’re clicking away some guy climbs over the wall carrying 50 pounds of gear mounted on a tripod. He passed me and slipped taking down two other photogs. It really turned the morning into a nasty outing with ugly exchanges taking place. Not been to that crowded site since…:-1:

(Brent Clark) #6

I’m definitely with you guys - anymore I’ve been traveling to more remote locations to find more unique images and get away from crowds. At this point I think I’m just going to post the state and the year I took the photo (e.g. “Wisconsin, 2018”). If a friend asks I’ll tell a slightly more specific location. I just really don’t want to be part of the problem.

(Matt Payne) #7

So, obviously I am in full agreement with you on this one @Brent_Clark - I too no longer tell people locations and just give a very generic location when asked or when I post. There’s some exceptions to this like when it is totally obvious. In the podcast this week (Wednesday), Thomas Heaton and I talk about this very thing. Good chat.

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(Chris Mitchell) #8

@Matt_Payne can’t wait for that episode.

I’m completely on board with this. I live in the English Lake District and whenever you visit the iconic locations you can guarantee that you’ll be fighting for a position with other people. Personally I like photography because I can get away from people and have some me time. It seems counter intuitive to then follow the crowds. I find myself poking around looking for undiscovered or less commonly photographed places.

It doesn’t help that every photography guidebook available to the lakes states where to go, what time, exactly when and pretty much where to stand.


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(Eugene Theron) #9

From the UK standpoint I second some of the things that @Chris_Mitchell is saying here. Like him I live in Snowdonia which is one of the iconic mountain areas of the UK, but nowhere near as popular nor busy as the Lake District. If you rock up to some of the more popular roadside locations (of which there are plenty) you will often find someone with a tripod snapping away. Get to the Lake District and this number increases ten-fold. Despite this there has been a rise in photographic popularity here and just recently we saw the release of a guidebook to photographing the mountains of Snowdonia. Despite this I think the book has been written in quite good taste and generally sticks to the more popular hiking routes and what you can gain from them, while leaving some of the quieter spots out. This said the area is pretty small and there and you have to work hard to find something a bit different.

Since the rise of photography there has been some notable damage to popular locations - litter left, plants trampled and a popular yet still relatively secret swimming spot mobbed by a photographer selling his image to a local paper. One of the issues for me in the UK apart from the obvious damage it causes, is one of access. Many of these areas sit on private or managed land where access is granted through historical right. I can see a potential issue developing where these rights may become restricted or removed if we are not careful. Tom may have shed some further light on this in his interview with Matt

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(Anil Rao) #10

Information hiding may show some short-term benefits but, in the end, folks will seek out these places. There is no shortage of sources that provide detailed information regarding these icons and how to get to them. For example, just look at the various photo tours (aka workshops) that lead herds of photographers to such places on an ever-increasing scale. I find it surprising that so many tour leaders then go on to complain about the over-use of these lands.

In my mind, education is the only long-term solution to the problem. This needs work, however, and it is therefore not a popular option.

(Tom Wylie) #11

Eugene, I think I know the book you are referring to, and I think there is actually a series of them from detailing other areas of the country.

I live on the border of the Peak and the problem is similar, but then again so is the amount of everything else concerning people.

Yes, if you don’t post the location of a landscape, you may deter some but at the end of the day it is the light that makes the photo not only the location.

I too think the answer (other than a reduction in population) is education.



(Igor Doncov) #12

People in Baja California like to write graffiti on the massive rocks. The large boulders all along the highway have been marred and ‘repaired’ by painting over the graffiti. It’s a travesty because they will never be the same again. All my shots are taken far offroad where few vehicles ever go. I feel uncomfortable remaining silent when invariably people respond by asking for a location. I just lie and tell them it’s somewhere else. It’s on my conscience.

(David Roberts) #13

Unfortunately, I don’t think things will get better despite efforts. I hate to be a Debbie Downer on the subject. But more and more I am realizing that social media is the devil in regards to this issue. One person posts a pic of a sweet place/iconic location, posts the location, then it gets reposted a million times, then it blows up in popularity. More so if the location doesn’t involve much effort to get to. I have read that education is key but people want to “nail the shot” so they’re willing to do whatever…trample flowers, venture off trail, etc…I do hit some of the iconic shots especially when travelling but always try to hit either early or late but sometimes that doesn’t help.

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(Paul Breitkreuz) #14

Igor, I can relate and it’s very sad. I found some spray paint issues in the Squaw Tank storage at JTNP a year ago and reported it. It’s in a remote area and I’ve not made it back yet, but wonder if the graffiti crew has had time to repair it…:rage:

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(David Kingham) #15

Those are from smoke bombs, which is a very popular thing to do on Instagram. Years ago when this started becoming popular we were at Delicate Arch and some tourists lit these off below the arch to get their ‘unique’ shot. We promptly called the rangers and thankfully there was a ranger at the trailhead. @Bob_Falcone followed them with the ranger on the phone to help identify them. They were caught and some justice was served. The unfortunate part is this happens all the time and these people don’t see negative side, they only see more likes and followers, and this is how they can achieve their insta-popularity.

I have moved this discussion to Nature First since this is now very applicable to what we are trying to achieve. Hopefully we can get some big brands on board with this who can get their influencers on board to shift the tide and make this type of behavior not cool.

(Paul Breitkreuz) #16

David, thank you for the explanation of the cause here. These were iPhone takes I sent to the JTNP graffiti cleanup crew last year. The term “Tank” in this area are man made and natural water storage areas from the earlier cattle days. This one is off the beaten path by a good distance.

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(Eugene Theron) #17

Some parts of the peak are massively eroded. I was up above ‘suprise view’ car park the other weekend and was suprised to see the impact of foot traffic. I think education will work on some. The people who actaully care about these environments in the first place. There is a huge swathe of the population (in the UK and elsewhere) who think they can treat these places as they place as they are allowed to be there. They put up a massive fight when they are told that places are fragile.

The light makes the photo for sure, but how many people will put the actaul effort into trying to work out where the spot is. I spend hours planning where to shoot and then hope the conditions fall into place (luck at the end of the day). I often get messages from people going ‘where exactly is this?’ and they fully expect an answer, getting pissed off when I don’t pander to their exact whim.


(Donna Macauley) #18

I agree with you to an extent, Anil. However, personally I’d feel better knowing I wasn’t the cause of it. I at least did my part by not posting location.

(Donna Macauley) #19

It seems that all newer cameras have GPS tracking. One thing we can do, and that I did the minute I turned the camera on, is disable the GPS. I keep notes in a field notebook. I don’t need to have the image tagged in the EXIF data. It’s an extra step to ensure location doesn’t get out to crowds.

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(Tom Nevesely) #20

Agreed. Years ago, I wanted to write an eGuidebook on some back country photography destinations in the Canadian Rockies but I never got around to it. Now, I’m actually glad I didn’t do it nor am I ever going to do it.