Nothing in the world is more exciting than a moment of sudden discovery or invention, and many more people are capable of experiencing such moments than is sometimes thought.
I’m delighted to see various “influencers” promoting the idea of not revealing location information. Recently, even a local tourism board (in Jackson Hole, WY) decided to create a campaign asking photographers to refrain from tagging locations. It’s a viewpoint I’ve been promoting for many years, and that at times elicited some heated responses. I don’t wish to rehash the same arguments again, but I do wish to point out the irrationality of one of the more commonly-mentioned counterpoints. Upon discovering some places, I had them to myself, not just to photograph but to experience and to be in. Some believe that my reluctance to make their location public is selfish. I suspect that those who hold such opinions may never have experienced the thrill of discovery; or if they did, they failed to consider it in their argument.
The experience of arriving at a known scenic location, and the experience of discovering such a location unexpectedly, are worlds apart. One would have to be emotionally numb to consider them as even similar, let alone interchangeable.
By not publicizing such locations, I am making it possible for others to also discover them as I did, to experience the same thrill as I have when first encountering them, to have these places to themselves as I have, to find them as pristine and as wild as I have. If I was to make such a place public and popular, none of these things will ever again be possible, for anyone. It is also likely that such popularity may have a detrimental effect to the ecosystems existing in such places. Which is the more selfish position?
There is no shortage of known locations where capturing spectacular, if uncreative, photographs is almost guaranteed. The same can’t be said about locations that are still wild and unknown.
I am fortunate to have had the experience of discovering several such places; and the memories of sudden awe when coming upon them are imprinted in my mind as vividly as those of my most cherished times. I may not know whether anyone before me has experienced the same surprise and amazement in the same places; but if someone has, I am grateful to that that person for leaving them as found—and as anonymous. I hope that if ever there is a next person to discover these places without expectation, that person will be similarly grateful for not knowing about them in advance.
You cannot plan an adventure any more than you can plan a surprise party for yourself. Adventure is the result of encountering something exciting and unexpected (and not always in good ways)—of discovering something new about the world, or about yourself, or about both.
Don’t spoil the surprise.