If you have ever met me in person and asked about my images and where they were photographed, sometimes I am reluctant to share. I usually give the region but rarely give a name to the structure or canyon if I find it really important. There are a few reasons to this though. Since I was recently called out on this I think I need to respond and share my thoughts on this.
Why I might not share:
Lets start with a case study. In 2013 I visited a location called Kanarraville Falls. At the time it was still relatively unknown and it was a blast. It was just me and my buddy and we wondered around for hours and had a great time. I came home from that event and uploaded my adventure onto my hiking website at the time and I didn't think much of it. But as time went on, that article I wrote began to rank highly on Google and it became the second link behind a video someone had shared.
It remained in that spot for about 2 years before I restructured the website and I lost all traffic to that site. In that two years visitation exploded. Unfortunately the ball was already set in motion and now the trail has been over run. On some busy Saturdays it might take an hour to get up the ladder to reach the upper falls. It is almost impossible now to photograph that canyon.
What are the other consequences you might ask? It use to be free to park now it is $10 dollars per vehicle now. Water supply for the town has been affected due to so many people defecating in the stream. The town's people are being over run by visitors and they hate all the traffic. Permitting is looking to be put in place in order to protect the canyon and the water system.
So yes, sharing does make a difference.
I do visit locations where I come across fragile structures, sensitive ecosystems and delicate ancient american ruins. When I photograph these structures I rarely share them or I don't share their locations. The top image is an example of that, as it is a difficult to get to area but superbly beautiful place.
I have a gallery of images of ancient american petroglyphs that have stick figures carved next to them or have names or swear words or some other offensive thing. I have seen too much toilet paper just sitting on the trail because the person didn't know any leave no trace rules. I see water bottles, wrappers, garbage on trails, and so much more.
Right now we have a revolution of people coming into the wild with nothing more but an idea, a selfie stick and no respect for the land they are going into. Silence and lack of sharing might be the most important thing I can do to protect some of these areas.
I do a lot of research before I run off into a slot canyon or some other deep location. I look at google earth, read books, scan far reaching articles through out the internet in order to find some of these locations. Because I put in the effort to find these, I don't usually share their locations because half the joy of photography is finding on your own. Did you put the effort in or did you just simply ask and go and do? Asking does not give you some sort of right to knowing.
I like David Thompsons thoughts on this. He shared them on Matt Paynes podcast. Check it out here: http://www.mattpaynephotography.com/blog/2017/6/interview-with-thompson-on-f-stop-collaborate-and-listen
I will guide you to an area and let you explore on your own. Put some effort in before you begin questioning me.
This past year I was at Devils Garden in Escalante. Once night came suddenly all of these people came out of the woodwork's and the evening astro shoot turned into a bit of a zoo. Luckily we could share light and we were all off set so it did not ruin anything, but it was definitely strange to be so far from anywhere and have so many people around.
Solitude in nature is something that is extremely replenishing and fulfilling. Its hard to get any other way and it is amazing when it happens. So sometime I keep locations secret due the fact I want to go back out there and have it remain empty of people. If I run into one other person out there, I think I can handle it, but it sucks when there are dozens of people.
Mother nature does not care about you. It does not care if you have kids, loved ones, jobs, degrees or anything else. She can be a cold hard killer and sometimes I go into dangerous locations. I don't share these locations because it is for the safety of others. I have a picture of some slot canyons that I almost went to the hospital over. I was trying to up climb this dry fall and my hands slipped and began falling sideways. Luckily the slot was so thin I could stick out my arms and catch myself and I did. I was six feet off the ground in a horizontal position.
I was scared fore sure.
Here is the shot:
Why I Do Share:
I do share plenty of locations though. I will talk about them and I often reveal where I am about to go well before hand, but if you are not paying attention, your loss. But back to the question on why I do share.
I share popular areas. No reason to be secretive about something already well known. I share regions because even I don't know how to describe how to get to the location in particular without just doing it again. I share locations that are impossible to get to without special gear because I doubt people will get there anyways.
And I will share sometimes if you pry enough and are willing to learn more.
So yeah, that's my thoughts on why I share or don't share. I have seen the affects of me sharing too much information so I just do what I do to make sure information does not get acquired too easily.