The Secret Location(s)

Should I always share photographed locations with others?

I ask myself this question a lot. I think the answer is a ready no to always, though I often consider the reasons why.

Why share?

  1. Give others a chance to also experience beauty.
  2. To reveal excitement of a new location.
  3. Photographers should be expanding creativity, discovering new locations, and improving the art. Could become a niche.
  4. Because it’s a nice thing to do.

Why not share?

  1. More exposure, especially to a secluded spot, may lead to unacceptable disturbance of the land and nature if it grows in popularity.
  2. Simply because having a few secret places is nice to enjoy alone. I think there is a special quality about it, like a treasure I’ve personally uncovered and I don’t want intruded upon.
  3. To avoid competition in sales, fame, and fortune.

When I begin my podcast in 2019, this may be one of the initial topics I explore with fellow photographers in the area and pick their brain on what practices they hold and if they think it’s a good thing or not.

I think there is definitely a sense of pride and protectiveness that comes with secret spots and maybe some selfishness as well. But I can see others overwhelmingly willing to share to others because they want others to enjoy the same beauty they did.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “The Secret Location(s)

  1. This is a great topic and one that I go back and forth on a lot as well. On the one hand, I want others to share with me, therefore I feel like I should be sharing with everyone too. But, as you say, it’s nice to have a few secret spots that, selfishly, you can have to yourself. It’s easy to become territorial over a location or area that you really love and do a lot of your photographing around. I don’t share every location readily, but if asked and it’s not private property (and I can remember where I was–because lets face it, when you zig-zag so many gravel roads you don’t always remember where the exact spot was) I will give the location up. I guess I feel that if it’s public land, I don’t really have a right to keep it to myself, even if I’d like to. I also think there is a benefit to sharing locations in the sense that as creatives I think we tend to feed off of each other and inspire each other. And, while I know some photogs don’t want to share because they don’t want people taking the same shot and trying to sell it, I find that one person rarely interprets a spot exactly the same as another. To me it begs the question: shouldn’t we all be allowed to experience a location and put our own creative spin on it? It’s also possible I’m a bit less attached to locations since I don’t currently sell my work. I have considered it and may explore the idea more in the near future, but right now I simply enjoy being able to explore, photograph what I see, and blog about it when I have time around my day job and daily life. For me it is mostly about experiencing new places and showcasing it through my lens.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank for you a thoughtful and detailed reply into this discussion. You bring up a good point of influence of whether or not selling work from a location adds more reluctance. For me, I was never selling work until very recently but wasn’t keen before and not keen after. I’d say, it doesn’t add any reason to share the location. I think allowing everyone to experience a spot is a great ideal that I have but I am not sure it is reality. Should that be my or our responsibility? Should we hope for the best? I think I am developing levels of sharing where I avoid doing it on social media. I have seen some pristine locations damaged and there is one location I will not share to keep it preserved unless it’s very trusted individual.

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  2. I tend to not share places that are not as known unless I know the person will respect it. I will never forget when my wife and I were living in Sacramento, CA and seeing teens just trying to run up the bark of giant sequoia trees in Calaveras Big Tree SP. My wife asked them to stop and they just laughed at us. Blatant disregard like that feeds my desire to not share places, again, not as known. That’s why I often don’t grace places with crowds, but instead, go at times when it is quiet or low attendance. I just don’t need to see the social mass descend and trample where they shouldn’t if they can’t show care and respect.

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    1. There is one location in MN I do not tell anyone for the reason of vandalism that has already happened. I feel that if I can slow down further destruction of the area, in any way, I will consider it. Thank you for the comment Steve.

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      1. Brad Goldpaint took me to a spot where what he calls Dr. Seuss flowers grow. It’s over a little rise right next to a well travelled trail but if you don’t know it’s there. then there’s no reason to go there. Other locations where these flowers have grown have been picked, trampled, dug up and are no longer there. So the only way you’re going to see these flowers is in images or if you gain Brad’s trust.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Bryan Hansel has found a few pristine waterfalls and hasn’t disclosed locations to simply preserve them. I think your example along with his is not focusing on any entitlement but a respect for natural environments where we have all seen what masses do to many of them.

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  3. I feel sharing locations definitely should be selective for all the reasons you listed above. I personally feel that locations within the city are whatever but when it comes to nature it really depends on the where and with who. On social media I generally don’t share the specific locations but Will it someone DMs me who I know and trust.

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    1. Hi Dave, thank you very much for the comment. Interesting point on the city. I usually default to nature locations when I think of this topic and just pondering your comment for a few seconds, I think I agree about the city. Your practice is my own right now.

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  4. I say share. I do understand the “cons,” but I think the real risks are generally much less than the perceived ones. On the whole, I think sharing will always promote creativity more than hindering it. And even if a spot becomes “crowded” or competitive, you can use those factors to drive new ways of thinking and seeing, or inspire you to seek out new places.

    2 cents, given!

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    1. Eric, thank you for contributing your two cents. It’s good to think of all areas of a topic. I do use factors that you listed “crowding” and “competitive” to find new locations that aren’t so. There a voice within me that will do something just because no one else is doing it. I am an idealist and hope that people can go beyond what’s done but I’ve seen so much of the same stuff. I stay away from it. I suppose I try to quietly influence people by what I capture and where I go.

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  5. I no longer will tag locations of any of my images. Even Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors to stop geotagging photographs on social media in an effort to protect the state’s pristine forests and remote lakes.

    I have earned the trust of some well known photographers and they will share locations with me and I with them since we all know that we won’t tag the locations or share with anyone else that we’re not sure if they will respect the information and not pass it along.

    If people want to find a place, they can. I also think discovery is half of the journey anyway.

    I’ll be going to film synchronous fireflies this year in locations that aren’t very well know. Last year I was at one of the best known locations and it was a zoo! People really don’t care anymore and do whatever they want to, even after being told it bothers the fireflies.

    So when I post the images this year, there won’t be a location to go along with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thanks very much for the in-depth comment. I agree completely that discovery is part of the journey and as an adventurous spirit, it’s satisfying to find something through my own work and travels. A trusted friend helps a lot, too, as you’ve pointed out.

      I respect your actions and decisions to keep locations hidden.

      That’s really too bad about the fireflies. I like to think of the best of people but sometimes, it’s “all about me” and certain behaviors are unfortunate.

      Thanks for adding to my thought processes.

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