A Word from Guy Tal

September 01, 2018  •  2 Comments

Juniper in Capitol ReefJuniper in Capitol ReefCapitol Reef National Park, Utah
In his latest blog post Guy Tal argues against revealing the locations of his photographs because other photographers use him as a stalking horse so they may also visit wild and elusive places so as to cut another notch into their Instagram belt (my phrasing). 

He's found that some of those
                        natural formations I discovered were destroyed by people, either by nefarious intent or by leading to overuse. 

He continues: 
Speaking about this concern with fellow photographers, outdoor writers, conservation advocates, employees of the National Park Service and of other agencies, a point commonly raised is this: to advertise and to “develop” these rare and wild places is a good thing because if more people see them, more people will become motivated to advocate for their preservation. Although not obvious, the first part of the argument, by virtue of being true, negates the second part, at least when it comes to truly wild and sensitive places. It’s true that social sharing, development, and increased use of a wild place means that more people will see it, but no people will ever again experience it as a wild place.

He's been called selfish for his refusal to reveal these locations to others so they may have the same joy he did even though they would miss the most important part, the joy of discovery. 

Now, I'm not by any means an adventure photographer or even an adventurous photographer.  Most places I visit have been trod upon for ages, they're new to me and I'm happy with that.  I totally agree with Guy's approach and if I never find that elusive spot with the perfect evening light hitting that perfect juniper then so be it.  I'm grateful he did because he revealed to me something beautiful. 

I've written about hunting iconic landscapes before and I know it's very hard to have driven over a thousand miles to the canyons of Utah and not stop at Mesa Arch and watch the sunrise, even if you're doing so with fifty others lined shoulder-to-shoulder.   I'm happy that Mesa Arch is accessible to the masses even though I know that eventually the masses will destroy it.  I'm beginning to see it and others as sacrificial lambs.  Mesa Arch will be destroyed so other less accessible landscapes and formations can survive, at least a while longer.  Even as I write this the idea sickens me but if ten thousand visitors a year are satisfied with (pick your icon) then the wild places Guy and other responsible nature photographers visit can last that much longer. 

 


Comments

Todd Henson(non-registered)
I agree with Guy’s approach, though I admit to being torn about it. It’s not something I always used to think about. I like sharing so I was happy to tell folks about anything I found. And many of the locations I’ve visited I’ve learned about from others, so I felt I owned the next generation for the kindness shown me by the previous generation. Granted, I don’t get out into the wild where few folks tread. Just about everywhere I visit is off a main trail in some well know park.

But eventually I began seeing the problems when people share specific locations. I’ve seen situations where sensitive wildlife was put at risk because folks who wanted to share told the world about a bird’s nesting location or a fox den. That attracted large groups who don’t know (or care) enough about the wildlife and only care about getting closer or getting the photograph, and they end up stressing and causing problems for the animals.

These days I’m far less likely to share locations about wildlife until after they’re gone, so no one could harm them. Most of my landscape photography is in well trod locations, so there is far less concern there. I don’t have a problem telling someone I photographed something in this or that national or state park. I’m already visiting these locations long after the world has learned of them. Hence, I’m benefiting from someone who said something at some point in the past. That’s the irony. We want to protect these locations, but we also would like the opportunity to visit them. But if I ever happen upon a really nice scene off the beaten track, I’m far less likely these days to tell anyone exactly where it is than I would have years ago.
Monte Stevens(non-registered)
I just wrote a post about this earlier this morning. I made a trip out east of town and was upset to find a couch had been dumped along the a favorite spot for sunset images. And, this is nothing more than a county dirt road. There's nothing iconic about it, just a place where some can find peace and serenity from the city noise.
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