Jackson Hole Launches Tag Responsibly Campaign

In a November 2018 post, we asked if photographers should stop sharing location information. Popular spots are being overrun with Instagrammers, seeking to duplicate iconic images. The landscape is being damaged, vegetation trampled, trash and human waste left behind and people are risking life and limb for the next epic selfie.

It’s been a topic of conversation across the nature photography community. Now, the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has entered the debate with a campaign they’re calling “Tag Responsibly. Keep Jackson Hole Wild.”

Along with a video (above), the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board released posters and shareable social media graphics aimed at getting photographers of all levels to refrain from posting specific location information with their photos. This story even made the New York Times.

Anyone who’s been to Jackson Hole and tried to photograph Schwabacher Landing, Moulton Barn, or Oxbow Bend can attest to the fact that these locations are getting too much traffic. It’s easy to find the popular photo spots: there are long stretches of hard-packed bare earth, tamped down by thousands of feet and tripods. On any given sunrise, a photographer might have to deal with several photo tours and random cell-phone-toting tourists walking into their shots, parking in fields and leaving litter behind.

The new campaign urges people to “Post the photo. Trash the tag.” It’s not like Moulton Barn is hard to find, and there’s a big sign for Schwabacher Landing right on the highway but, when the very businesses that depend on tourism start getting behind a movement like this, they have the potential to change the conversation. As one of the Travel and Tourism Board posters asks, “How many likes is a patch of dead wildflowers worth?”

Should Photographers Share Location Information?

A sunflower field in Canada was trampled by hordes of people seeking a viral selfie.

A sunflower field in Canada was trampled by hordes of people seeking a viral selfie. © Frank Gallagher

Art Wolfe is reputed to have said you can celebrate something to death.  In a similar vein, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Senator Lamar Alexander penned a May 2018 editorial for CNN in which they bluntly stated that “our parks are being loved to death” through a combination of record-breaking crowds and severe maintenance backlogs. All over the world, precious, unique natural areas are under stress from human visitors.  In some places, it’s simply a case of too many people coming to too small a space.  In others, it’s not just the crowds, it’s also bad behavior.

In order to protect beautiful but fragile areas, many photographers have stopped sharing location information.  No GPS data.  No clues about where the spot is or how to get there.  Why?  Because, once a really cool photo location is out there on Instagram, Facebook or other platforms, the crowds inevitably follow.

Is withholding locations arrogance? Selfishness? Respect for nature?  You be the judge.
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