“Hey, where did you take that photo?” “Where is this?” “How do you get there?’ “You should tell us where this is. Don’t be rude.”
These are comments I’ve received or seen directed at other photographers on the internet. Every photographer has their own policy on sharing their locations. I thought I would start a discussion on the topic since there is no straight-forward answer. Below is also my personal comfort level on the subject. I tend to take a situational approach to each location.
When It’s OK
Publicly well-known locations that are easily found on the internet and relatively safe. I’m comfortable with revealing locations that are landmarks which are easily found on the internet. I still won’t give out exact directions, but if someone asks I’ll say “yeah, that’s XYZ Pier.” I sometimes like to give hints to help people find a spot without giving it away completely. I am also more lenient in giving out an exact location if I am contacted privately by a direct message.
When It’s Not Ok
- Dangerous locations
When you are photographing a location where people have been killed, sharing the location is not a great idea. There are many people that lack savviness in different environments. I actually got into a debate with another photographer about this recently. Some locations are incredibly dangerous to find and, when the conditions aren’t safe, people have died. We have a responsibility in situations like this to not publicly share these spots. We can’t physically prevent someone from going, but the less location knowledge that is publicized the better.
- Environmentally/culturally-sensitive locations
If the spot you photographed is protected or culturally significant, it’s probably not a good idea to publish the location to prevent hordes of people from showing up. It will happen eventually, but let’s not speed up the process of destroying these spots.Leaving no trace is also very important, especially when endangered species are involved. Let’s try not to put fragile environments at risk. I’m more concerned about the non-photographers leaving trash, graffiti, pushing rocks over, etc. Most landscape photographers are environmentally-conscious individuals.
- Top secret, special, hard-to-find spots that you spent hours of your time researching
If I spend hours researching a location on the internet, I’m not going to tell anyone where its located. I put a ton of my own work and time finding a location; you need to do the same! It’s much more rewarding than having it handed to you on a silver platter. The research process of finding a spot is part of the journey. It’s part of why landscape photography is amazing. The hunt and final reward of getting that shot when you find the location. Google Earth is always an excellent starting point for your adventure quest.
What are your thoughts on the topic? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below.