The Inscrutability of Secrets

By |2015-02-16T18:42:06+00:00Feb 16th, 2015|

The other day, I was chatting online with a photographer who I recently became acquainted with. I initially reached out because I wanted to pay him a compliment on a beautiful waterfall photo that he took the in Pacific Northwest area. When I asked him which waterfall it was, his response was utterly bewildering to me. He expressed hesitation about sharing the location because he had done his research and wanted to keep the location as proprietary as possible because of the work he put into locating it. It wasn’t a matter of trespassing or anything like that… he assured me that it was public grounds. But, he didn’t feel comfortable sharing the location because he wanted to minimize how many other photographers would find it.

Now here’s where I scratch my head. We’re all here willingly participating in this social media stratosphere that was built for us, right? You share the comings and goings of your day. I share a photo and a story. We all pitch in by sharing content of varying degrees of interest, candidness, and relevance. When I share a photo, I have every intention of sharing all of it with you. This includes the experience of taking the photo, any lessons learned, and, when applicable, the coordinates of where it was taken. Of course, there are times when I don’t have the coordinates because I didn’t log them and was too lazy to retroactively add them in, but it is never the case of intentionally hiding them from anyone for fear that they may gasp want to enjoy the location, too. If someone was ever interested in where a photo of mine was taken and the geodata wasn’t embedded, all they’d need to do is ask. Now, I understand that, in some situations, it is actually necessary to withhold location info. Often times, when photographing in abandoned structures, it simply isn’t prudent to share that information. I can get behind that.

However, when it comes to this notion that a certain location in nature and on public grounds needs to be protected to maintain exclusivity, I am simply at a loss. You may say that the photographer has every right to withhold that info because he/she put the energy and time to research where it is and how to get there. Even that doesn’t fit in my book of reasons to prevent others from enjoying it. You know what it does show me? It shows me that this photographer has a lack of confidence. Here you have a photographer who is intentionally withholding basic location information. Actually, he wouldn’t even tell me the name of the falls! But he’s withholding this information because he doesn’t want others to easily find it. On what planet does this make sense? Do you have such little confidence in your own abilities as a photographer that you would intentionally keep others from taking a crack?

If you boil it down, there are so many variables that would dictate how I would get my photo and how that would, more than likely, result in you getting something entirely different. Let’s put hardware and photography experience aside. You’ve got to contend with variables such as the time of day, the time of year, the weather conditions, the conditions of the surrounding area, and all sorts of other factors that can make your experience utterly different than mine. And then you get to layer on differences in hardware (your telephoto vs my fisheye) and overall photography experience.

The way that I see it, if there is a particularly picturesque location in nature, and especially if it’s on public land, then everyone who is interested in experiencing it should have that opportunity. Not only will I not stand in your way, but I’ll tell you the exact coordinates of the location and be more than happy to share any notable things to look out for or avoid. Sharing can be such a cathartic and rewarding act when it’s done with selflessly and with good intention. Don’t prove your worth as a photographer by holding others back. Prove it by consistently sharing great content.

For the record, I took this at Upper Ruckel Creek Falls, just off I-84 along the Columbia River Gorge. The actual geodata is embedded within the image. :)

Now, if you’ve made it this far, then I congratulate you. But, I also would like to know if you agree or disagree here. If you stumbled onto a beautiful new waterfall and I asked about it later on, would you share the details? Why or why not?

Camera: Sony a7II with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4
Filter: Formatt Hitech Firecrest 105mm Circular Polarizer
Tripod: Really Right Stuff TVC-34L/BH-55
Stylization: Adobe Lightroom 5.7

57 Comments

  1. Reid Adair February 16, 2015 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree. I will never understand that. Folks act as if the light is exactly the same every day, waterflow (if applicable) is the same, etc. Well, sorry to disappoint, but it isn’t.

  2. Bob Adams February 16, 2015 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I agree with you Brian M

  3. Bret Edge February 16, 2015 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    I struggle with this. Photographers visit my Moab gallery in droves and they frequently want to know where to find certain locations that are depicted in the prints on our walls. Generally speaking I don’t mind sharing this information. There are, however, some spots that I do not reveal for myriad reasons.

    First, locations that I and others consider to be sensitive and unable to support heavy traffic are off the table. I’ve seen too many obscure Native American ruins, rock art and a few natural areas vandalized or otherwise damaged after their location was spread all over the internet. I’m not willing to contribute to the problem. Second, there a few locations around Moab that close friends have shared with me only after I promised not to share them with others. I’m not going to violate the trust of a close friend. Lastly, as one who leads private photography workshops in Moab, a good chunk of my business relies on being able to take my clients to places that are off the beaten path and away from the crowds. If I start telling everyone where to find some of these locations I’ll eventually start cutting into my own business, which just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

    That said, I’m not at all worried that another photographer will visit one of these locations and walk away with a better image than my own. If that’s the only reason someone has for not sharing a location, well…it’s a pretty sad reason.

    Great topic, Brian. Hope it generates a bit of friendly debate.

    • Brian Matiash February 16, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much for your well laid out thoughts, Bret. I appreciate it. To your first reason about not wanting to support heavy traffic… I can understand you not wanting to broadcast specific location information online, where it’s accessible for anyone to find. However, if in a one-off situation, completely ‘offline’, if a person sees a photo of yours and would like to see the place for themselves, you would not share that information? I guess I don’t agree with that philosophy.

      As for your second reason, I can rally behind that. If you made a promise to keep information as confidential, then I wouldn’t ever expect you to compromise your integrity. However, that was not the reason that I wrote about. The reasoning I was given was entirely different and was much more defensive in nature.

      Your third reason falls in line with your first. An individual asks you about the location and you won’t tell them about it because you want to keep it proprietary for your workshops. I’ve done workshops and I approach it that what makes them worth the cost is what I bring to the table in terms of experience and helping others make the most of any location. Of course, if it is a matter of you having a permit to photograph in a location, that’s a different story. Surely, if you have intimate knowledge of a place and can lead your students to really cool locations as a result, that’s a huge benefit. But I don’t see it as necessitating any sort of exclusivity.

      Still, I really do appreciate all of your thoughts here. This is certainly a very healthy debate and I thank you for contributing to it!

      • Bret Edge February 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm - Reply

        The problem with sharing information in a “one-off” situation is that in today’s connected world, there are no truly “one-off, offline” situations. Who is to say that the stranger with whom I share the information won’t go make an image and then post it, and information about the location, all over Flickr, 500PX, Facebook, twitter, Instagram and all the other avenues available online designed for the sharing of images? And once it’s easily found online, doesn’t that intrinsically run the risk of increasing visitation and thereby potentially contributing to the degradation of the site?

        With regard to workshops, one of my most popular photography workshops is the Undiscovered Moab Photo Tour. Would you pay me to take you to those locations if you could just hit up Google and find directions to each and every spot? Probably not.

        Looking forward to other responses on the topic!

        • Duncan Fawkes February 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm - Reply

          Ye, I agree with Bret on this one. I share quite freely – I’ve written a few location guides, and helped people find little gems via email, etc – but sometimes there are reasons for not freely sharing a location. I don’t think it’s from being scared of someone making a better image. Encouraging heavy traffic into an area is certainly one of the key ones, especially if it’s a quiet, undisturbed spot. That quiet and lack of disturbance is often what makes it magical, even beyond photography isn’t it nice to just enjoy some peace and quiet somewhere, unplugged from the world?

          There was one such place near where I lived in the UK that I came upon, a wee gorge with some lovely cascades, green mossy banks and a large waterfall. For some time it was my solitude. I’d never see anyone up there despite being quite close to a road as it was hidden down a large embankment. I would visit it several times a week to photograph it.

          Then I wrote a wee location guide to it on my website, and a few photographers came along and were grateful to me for sharing. Then someone else posted about it on the local town’s Facebook group and – I kid you not – people turned up in droves. You would pass a dozen or so groups up there, rubbish scattered everywhere, broken tree branches, scorched grass from (banned) fires, and so on. It was awful and I’ve not been back since.

          The FB post was the killer, but I know that I and my wife had spoken to friends about how lovely it was. They will have posted their photographs from visits to FB for others to see, and so on. A sort of drip drip drip of knowledge that led to its demise. Perhaps my location guide helped those that had heard about it to find it :(. Now I just wish nobody had said anything and it could remain a secret for those that would respect it and enjoy its now lost tranquility.

          Bret’s other points are valid too, though personally I avoid taking workshops to such spots – normally the practicalities (in terms of distance to travel, physical space, etc) make these little gems unsuitable for group workshops.

          I do get where you’re coming from Brian, I think being open and sharing freely is a key part of a vibrant community. But in the same way that some folks are a bit too open when it comes to sharing their life on social media, I think the same can apply to our photographic life. So I think it’s ok to draw a line somewhere as long as we’re not being an ass about it.

          On a final point, I’m pretty anti-honey potting and think that exploration and adventure are as much of the reward of photography than the photographs themselves.

  4. Michael Russell February 16, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    I think there are certainly times when keeping a location “secret” is necessary. Fragile subjects/locations can be overrun with visitors quite easily. While I am probably not in danger of causing large traffic influxes to an area, there are photographers who can. When they keep a location such as that secret I think that is a great thing (if it is for that reason). The public has certainly been known to willfully damage sensitive locations after they have been posted online. I have photographed relatively few of these kinds of locations, but I have not mentioned the locations and will not if I am ever asked. That said, 99% of what I’ve photographed I am open about where it was photographed, or the name of the location/subject at least. So while the photographer you mention here may very well be insecure in their photography skills, there certainly are other valid reasons for not divulging a location or subject.

    • Brian Matiash February 16, 2015 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      I absolutely agree that there are case-by-case scenarios where keeping a location secret may be warranted, however I do have a tinge of frustration over people justifying withholding this sort of info under the lens of protecting it when they themselves were were fine with photographing it. It’s certainly a fine line and I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest an ‘all or nothing’ mentality but based on this particular experience that I had, I don’t really see it as warranted.

      • Michael Russell February 17, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

        To that point there are circumstances where one happens upon something accidentally. A rare species, for example. You may not go looking for it but when you find it there isn’t anything wrong with making a few photographs. Telling everyone else how to find it, however, may actually cause some damage.

  5. Laurie Excell February 16, 2015 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Beautifully said Brian Matiash! I’m with you 100%. Yes, there are sensitive situations but, really, they are few and far between.
    The photography world, and the world in general would be so much better with a widespread epidemic of sharing like you have just expressed.

    • Brian Matiash Photography February 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks for chiming in, Laurie. That’s the thing that frustrates me. Most of the responses I’ve seen are from people acting as protectors of these apparently ultra-fragile lands… but not ‘that’ fragile that they’d keep themselves from visiting and photographing in.

    • Laurie Excell February 16, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      Exactly. And where did they find these places anyway? I can’t even begin to count the number of places I’ve been directed to by sharing photographers over the years. I like to pay it forward.

  6. Laurie Excell February 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Gee, I didn’t even tell you how gorgeous your image is.

  7. Michelle Zenner-Bertels February 16, 2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    In some cases sharing info damages the site and would only put others- less experienced hikers- at risk. I see your frustration. I agree and I disagree. hmm. This discussion gets my respect. I was warned once not to share trail info for those reasons no map was ever made. Some historical burials are treated in the same way. Only officials are given site locations to preserve the integrity and pristine nature of the site.

  8. Roger Botting February 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Years ago I was talking to John Sexton, he was telling us about one of his photos. Apparently, one of his students wanted to make his own copy.
    The student went to the location and noticed that a number of trees had grown up in front of the scene in the intervening years. The student then proceeded to cut down the offending trees to take the photo.
    Sometimes there are other reasons to protect a scene.

  9. Chris Newham February 16, 2015 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    I totally agree it too embed geodata but I can get behind withholding sensitive sites. In today’s connected world it won’t be long before someone finds it withholding information is largely pointless.
    I take the approach of sharing and if you take a better picture than me I will admire your work and talk to you about what you did and learn more myself.
    The only time I would withhold information is if the requestor is a person who doesn’t share information themselves.

  10. Louis Handley February 16, 2015 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Photography is meant to experienced and shared on all levels. Thanks for this well written post. And, thanks for a great image. Personally, I feel there are very few really valid reasons for holding back location information. As photographers, the images we create of a certain scene are our interpretations only and therefore unique. Everyone, who so desires, should have the possibility to experience it on their own. So I say no need for excessive secrecy.

    • Brian Matiash Photography February 17, 2015 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Thank you for this extremely well written reply. You’ve captured the very essence of the point that I was trying to make and I really appreciate it. :)

  11. Barbara Jones February 17, 2015 at 1:33 am - Reply

    We need to protect these wonderful places. The Isle of Skye has been ruined by the trampling of many feet in the wilderness. There are mini buses full of photographers swarming all over the land. That is NOT experiencing the wilderness, and taking an image in the company of a dozen people is not what it is about. I won’t even start on what the impact is upon wildlife !!!

  12. […] Brian Matiash The other day, I was chatting online with a photographer who I recently became acquainted with. I […]

  13. Anne-Marie Baeten February 17, 2015 at 4:12 am - Reply

    So pure and nice!!!

  14. David Carrigan February 17, 2015 at 4:53 am - Reply

    First, great shot. And you are absolutely correct. The photographer you are speaking about lacks dignity and confidence. But then again not everyone is a photog for the betterment of others. This is why people like yourself share Their information. Well and because that’s how this industry truly grows. It all comes back to understanding we are all put on this planet to make a difference. No matter how small it may be.

  15. Marty Hegr February 17, 2015 at 5:09 am - Reply

    If I were to be a highly paid “pro”, which I am not, I can see witholding site and camera info. However, if you were that “pro”, I question why you would be on facebook. Social media is a place to share with your peers, for the purpose of self improvement and interaction with others. More important to me, is that when I share all details, others get to know me and then want to go shoot with me. I enjoy the botherhood of shooting with others more than any other aspect of social media. Again, I question why this “secretive” person would even be on social media.

  16. TJ Thorne February 17, 2015 at 6:01 am - Reply

    I don’t know. I’m kinda mixed on this. Sometimes doing the work to find the location is part of the fun.. even if the work is digging into other photographers for intel.

    That being said… show me the photo. I’ll find out for you. ;-)

  17. Aaron Reed February 17, 2015 at 7:11 am - Reply

    This area is fragile and I am trying to reduce the impact on this amazing location by only stomping it myself….you know, because I’m special. :) I would respect someone if they told me the real reason behind keeping a location secret but they never do. I’m with TJ…Send me the pic and I’ll tell you where the waterfall is. :)

    • Brian Matiash Photography February 17, 2015 at 7:54 am - Reply

      That is EXACTLY the thought that goes through my mind whenever someone replies with that rationale. There is this tendency for people to veer to these extreme examples to justify it when I’m simply making the point that I don’t see a reason to withhold location info for the sake of keeping it proprietary/exclusive.

      • Bret Edge February 17, 2015 at 11:42 am - Reply

        There is a vast difference between one person and dozens (or hundreds) of people visiting an area. Maybe you “stomp” all over a location but I’m much more respectful about my impact. I don’t “stomp” around, stand or walk where I shouldn’t, leave trash lying around, take away “souvenirs”, vandalize or otherwise deface things, etc. As I said, I don’t mind sharing some locations but there are a handful that I’ll keep to myself.

    • TJ Thorne February 17, 2015 at 11:24 am - Reply

      I almost make it a hobby of finding people’s “secret locations” on google earth. With some patience, knowledge of various geologies, and clue digging.. it’s not that hard.

    • Tula Top February 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      My “secret location” won’t show on Google Earth. But if you show me the

    • Aaron Reed February 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      No one wants to compstomp that Tula Top, despite what you keep telling yourself.

    • Tula Top February 17, 2015 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      It is quite the bushwhack, I’ll admit…

    • Brian Bonham February 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      Tula you can pick up a machete for a few bucks for those problems :-)

    • TJ Thorne February 17, 2015 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      This thread is closed.

  18. Glenn February 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    I don’t buy any reason for not sharing a location, no matter how rationally and reasonable expressed. It just doesn’t make sense not to share.

    But there is a much worse thing to do than not sharing that I’ve witnessed. There was a location in the Smokies where flowers were growing in a unique way through a rotten tree trunk. It was there one day to photograph, but the next day as I walked past that same location I saw someone had intentionally destroyed it by kicking the flowers off the trunk. This was in an out of the way place, it was almost certainly done by a photographer who didn’t want anyone else to get this shot.

    • DJ February 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Glenn, people ruin things. People who need to be told where to go will never find these places. Most have not been educated about what these types of environments need to thrive.
      It is human nature to change things. This includes footprints, trash, garbage, et al.

      Imagine in the place of all that beautiful age old moss eco system a single group photo or selfey… RUINED!!!
      Most humans are not worthy.

  19. Patrick Mc Donnell February 17, 2015 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    More than happy 20 years ago I knew a photographer who, having located a particularly photogenic clump of wild mushrooms, quietly shot his images and then kicked over the clump to ensure nobody else ‘got the shot’!

  20. DJ February 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    This photograph is beautiful. Even more amazing is your respect for nature and her secrets. For the photographers who ask… have you ever seen Bryce canyon in the morning? it’s 50-60 photographers lining up the exact same shots. Beauty like this can not handle human involvement. Only the exceptional few with an eye for beauty and love for nature are worthy of finding such spectacles. The masses should feel lucky you are even sharing these images.

  21. Gary Crabbe / Enlightened Images February 17, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Let’s face it, different people have different rationalizations and opinions. Some photographers may think that another photographer asking him for a location is being a jerk ‘cuz he’s too lazy to do his own legwork. Other photographers may think that a photographer who doesn’t share a location is a jerk for whatever reason, be it selfish or environmentally based. One thing is certain, Social Media promotes the idea of the Me-Too composition and location. When you’ve seen a scene trampled by crowds, you understand, “fragile” and “Impact” don’t play well together. Here in California we had a great group that used to share locations of where the best wildflowers were blooming. The person that started the group eventually became so dismayed at all the reports of damage and inconsiderate people trampling the locations, she simply shut the door. People, photographers included, in a herd mentality are, for lack of a better term, idiots that don’t care for much beyond what it takes for them to ‘get their shot’. And if you don’t believe how rude and selfish photographers can be, try walking down in front of delicate arch right at sunset, or imagine yourself trying to get your shot of delicate arch just as someone walks into your shot. Either side of the coin, there’s gonna be some not very happy people. Now delicate arch is a known location. But so what if a photographer doesn’t want to share a location for fear that something similar might eventually happen? Don’t bitch about his personal choice. If the shot’s important enough, and there are any clues, just keep digging away at your own research and make your own choices. I personally don’t geo-tag. Sometimes I’ll share locations, but if I have a reason not to, I won’t. I’ve done a popular guidebook, so I know first hand about the delicate balance between disclosing a location, and thinking about the potential impact that disclosure might have. But I also recall that that Wahweap Hoodoos in Utah are a place that suffered, even to listed in a guidebook, they became over-run by foreign tourists and photographers after the location was geo-tagged and posted on the internet. These days, you simply can’t stop the dissemination of information across the internet. All you can do is make your own personal choices on how you choose to, or choose not to share that information.

    Submitted Respectfully,

  22. Raico Rosenberg February 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    when secret locations are revealed its like activating cheat codes on a video game..

  23. Mondell Salmon February 17, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Any person who will not share something like that doesn’t deserve to be amongst the global fraternity of Photographers. Let not Art be stifled or blocked with boundaries.

  24. Kelly-Shane Fuller February 17, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Thats bizarre to me, like you said if its a public space I’d be more than happy to help others enjoy it. And its not likely they’d shoot EXACTLY the same photo as you even if they do go shoot it, each photographer has their own take on a space.

  25. Gayle Shoemaker Fetick February 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    I totally agree with you and you have made good points. I post on a wildflower website in the spring & summer and have also seen pictures where locations were purposely not shared. Most everyone on this website shares the locations and it is interesting to see the different perspectives of the same location.

  26. Gregory Hughes February 17, 2015 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    I certainly have asked about locations in the past, and will likely do so again. I have to say, though, that I find that somebody taking a well-thought through position, offering a reasonable and polite explanation, has ‘given’ enough. Seems like this is a personal decision, and if somebody can explain why they are acting the way they are, who are we to question? I’m distressed by many comments here who make out the photographer who opted to keep the information to themselves in a very judgmental way. Broke my heart to see the Raceway in Death Valley destroyed some time ago. And I have seen numerous photographers – many in workshop settings – not only ignore rules and signs, but gleefully destroy fragile scenes. I think we need to rethink our expectations under the guise that ‘…everybody should share…’ Please, don’t ‘should’ on me…!

    • Bret Edge February 17, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Very well said, Gregory. My sentiments exactly. Seems like a whole lot of judging going on here, which is unfortunate.

  27. gdanmitchell February 18, 2015 at 6:06 am - Reply

    I do not understand the need to keep a location secret to try to ensure that other photographers will not make photographs of it, an effort born of a false fear that this is locations rather than how we shoot them that makes our work what it is. I don’t think photography is about being the first or only person to photograph a thing – it is about what our photographs of things communicate, whether they are familiar or not.

    On the other hand, there are often very good reasons for not saying too much about some locations, including those that are currently places of quiet and solitude, subjects that are fragile or whose access takes people through fragile places, and those that are so accessible that word of them would lead to their destruction.

    Regarding the latter reasons for being circumspect, it is more a case of trying to save the thing for others than it is of trying to keep a secret place to oneself. An ethical test that I employ when I decide that some locations are best not spoken of outside of a few close and trusted friends is whether I would accept another photographer not telling me about some fragile and special places — and I do accept that.

    Take care,

    Dan

  28. gdanmitchell February 18, 2015 at 6:08 am - Reply

    Follow up… I meant to mention an article I wrote about my own change of heart regarding this issue: http://www.gdanmitchell.com/2010/07/03/how-much-information-is-too-much-information

  29. […] The Inscrutability of Secrets […]

  30. Shay March 31, 2016 at 8:13 am - Reply

    While in theory I agree with you, in practice I have seen this backfire so many times with people who are totally disrespectful of keeping the area as pristine as I found it in the first place and damaging or destroying it to the point the next person has absolutely nothing of value to photograph. I don’t want this to come off as if I never share, yet I will also say there are times I do not share for a variety of reasons.

    • Brian Matiash March 31, 2016 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Indeed, Shay. I wholeheartedly understand what you’re saying and don’t disagree with you, per se. Like I mentioned in my reply to Fil’s comment, I believe that there needs to be a much greater amount of outreach and education beyond what we already have. I understand that there is only so much that we can do to protect each other from ourselves but I’m going of the approach to not let a few bad apples ruin the bunch.

  31. Fil March 31, 2016 at 8:16 am - Reply

    IMHO, whosoever wants to find out about any of my locations, they’re welcome
    to it, since all the unique circumstances of the moment I was there re
    gone and likely won’t be repeated – that is, if I managed to use it so
    well that it creates an interest in other people.

    Thus the photographers like the one you described would be the ones I’d easily forget. We do our souls a favor when we communicate with better people. Whatever the ulterior reasons for not disclosing the location info, it retains an aroma that would make me avoid such persons in the future.

    It might also have some educative effects upon the narrow-minded, which is good too! ;)

    • Brian Matiash March 31, 2016 at 8:46 am - Reply

      This is more along my line of thinking, Fil. I just can’t see myself hiding information about a public place from people who have just as much of a right to enjoy it as I do. With that said, I’m also not naive and understand that with that information comes the risk for some types of people to be abusive and destructive. Despite that, I do not believe that hiding geo information is the solution to the problem. There have to be better ways to education the masses and teach them the importance of appreciating their environment.

  32. Mike March 31, 2016 at 9:26 am - Reply

    I agree and disagree, it would depend on the situation. Waterfalls and similar features, I’m happy to share. I know that not everyone will respect the natural beauty and may destroy it, but that can happen whether I share the information or not. So I’m happy to share the location of my photos, and do so 95% of the time. However, in some cases I may be leery of doing so. For example, if I stumble upon the next of Whooping Cranes with a couple of fledglings I may take a few shots but I would not share the location. I know that if I did, the next day there would be a 100 people stomping around the nest trying to get a look and a photo. Not just pro wildlife photographers with respect for the situation, but every Tom, Dick, and Harry using their iPhone to get a shot from 6″ away.

    • Brian Matiash March 31, 2016 at 9:33 am - Reply

      A very fair point, Mike. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a rash of stories where irresponsible and vain people have ended up killing poor animals just so they can get their selfies. That’s just plain ignorance.

  33. Jim Vining March 31, 2016 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I will always share location info and best ways of getting there, if someone asks. I would also advise on best lense choices and how high of rubber boots to wear. Life is too short not to help each other enjoying this planet.

  34. John Keedy March 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    All that being said, I agree most with Fil about all the conditions that existed when I made that exposure. In my field trips with students, we can all be at the same location and everyone has a different rendition of that location. That’s what I so much enjoy about photography, there are an infinite number of images that can be made from any geo tag.

  35. David Hidding April 1, 2016 at 6:36 am - Reply

    In my experience, hiding the location is far more common than sharing the location. I find most photographers take the viewpoint of “find it yourself,” recognizing that only the most dedicated photographers will actually do the leg work to find the location. Thus the location remains a little less trampled and worn. I’d prefer that more photographers were willing to share, but I understand the viewpoint. Consider that until 15 years ago, only a select few knew about “The Wave” in Coyote Buttes, it was a like a secret club. A photographer shared the location and it’s now so popular that the National Park Service limits the number of visitors to reduce impact on the delicate sandstone formations and the permits required to visit are issued by lottery.

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