Washington · USA
I’ve delayed the release of a new image for a fair amount of time in order to scrub much of the specific location information I’ve habitually included in the majority of my photo descriptions featured on my website as well as other social media and photo-sharing platforms.
Over the years, I’ve come to acknowledge my inadvertent complicity in sullying the very places I love and seek to preserve. It’s not that I care to overstate my own work’s influence nor the breadth of its reach—especially in comparison with the many far more talented and influential photographic artists than myself, both historically and contemporarily—but I’m certainly some part of the popular/modern-day photography crowd that’s brought many locales and natural wonders far quicker and widespread exposure in this modern technological age than would have been possible in any other epoch of history. And with that exposure has come a rising tide of tragedies of the commons in which the names and settings may change but the same maddening theme song torments your sensibilities like an immortal earworm.
To be clear, in purging the more precise location information from my photos, I’m not intending to channel Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-levels of literary obscurity nor discourage people from visiting these places per se. I know digital footprints and leads aren’t that hard to uncover and follow. These are beautiful scenes that I do still care to share with the majority of people, but now with the more mature understanding that there’s a selfishly-myopic segment of the audience that’s multiplying like locusts (or maybe lemmings?) and that cares far, far less about the intrinsic value of places and things than the temporarily ego-gratifying opportunity to publicize to people, emphatically, that “I was there.” And within this segment resides an even more pernicious threat to the natural environment: those who not only snub their noses at Leave-No-Trace principles, they willfully defy it by leaving a mark on the land that far outlives the photo opp (see below at Casey Nocket, Oneonta Tunnel, Tumalo Falls, Corona Arch, ad nauseam). Regrettably, shooting and publishing the last few years under this bizarrely destructive geopolitical and social pall that’s descended upon us has taught me that human attention spans are woefully too short for far too many to really learn from history, and the greater miracle is that we haven’t driven ourselves to the point of extinction.