Poppies at sunset

June 2020

Why I don't share my locations on social media

People often ask me about the locations where I made my photos. If I don't give them the locations, more than once people got mad at me. It sometimes seems that people think that I am a kind of public property and that I need to share everything with everyone. It's to me a bit similar to people (and even companies) asking to use my photos for free. Well no, you can't use my photos for free and I don't think any explanation is needed for that.

It seems that quite a lot of people don't understand why I don't share exact locations. However, that is something I do want to explain, as the reasons for not sharing locations are maybe indeed not so obvious. This article is mainly written for those people who normally get mad at me when I don't share a location. It's not meant for all the friendly fellow photographers that I got to know in the past years. But of course everyone is 'allowed' to know my opinion and reasons why I don't share locations on social media.

Reason 1: damage to the location

The main reason why I don't share exact locations on internet is that I have seen the adverse effect of (mainly) Instagram on some very beautiful locations. Several places that I know since my childhood completely lost their charm by the sheer amount of visitors that have been attracted to these places by Instagram. But even worse: I have seen the damage to some of these places. Some places have been completely trampled by all the people that 'need' the shot for (mostly) their Instagram feed.

I have been Geocaching for a short moment in the past. I liked the idea that in this way you could get to know some hidden gems. However, I have seen how some places have been completely ruined by people searching for the cache like wild pigs. When I was at such a ruined place I felt ashamed for what other people had done to the place and that was the reason why I stopped Geocaching: I didn't want to be part of a community with some (I stress some, not all) people having absolutely no respect for nature and the places that they visit.

Reason 2: my responsibility

Reason 2 is related to reason 1. In the past years, the number of people following me on social media and also here on my website has grown a lot. My photos are being viewed many millions of times per year. With that large amount of followers and views, I feel the responsibility to protect the places where I go. By not sharing my locations, I take my share of responsibility to prevent that too many people visit the same place and thereby preventing damage to that place both in terms of physical damage as damage in terms of loosing their charm.

Reason 3: local beauty

Another reason why I don't share my locations is that I mostly shoot close to where I live. I have seen that people at a certain moment don't see the beauty of the area that they live in anymore. Dutch people have the habit to complain about their flat country and quite some make remarks about 'the farmers' living in the Eastern part of the country. Dutch countryside is lame to those people. Many seem to believe that they need to travel far to find beauty. Photography showed me that beauty can be found everywhere. 

I shoot mostly locally and also want to show the beauty of the countryside where I live in, but I hope not everybody comes here. It is not my goal to attract many people to come here but my goal is to show the beauty of my area. I hope instead that you will search for beauty in your own area too, as I am sure you can find beauty everywhere. Some tip to find that 'hidden' beauty easier: think about what makes the area that you live in unique. What makes it different from other places? Once you know that, probably you have found a good subject to capture in photos.

Reason 4: uniqueness

This reason is simple: when everybody goes to the same place to shoot it, the photos are not unique anymore. That is also why I don't want too many people to come to the places that I shoot. That does not hold for every place though. I also sometimes visit famous places that have been shot many times already. Sometimes I also want to have a photo of such a well-known place. And often the well-known compositions of those places are the best ones. Although for many places that is also not the case. Or maybe the composition of the photo that someone else made is good, but the light was not or the editing could be better (in my opinion). All reasons for me to shoot at famous locations and even famous compositions too. But in general, I prefer the more unique photos that not everyone makes.

Reason 5: givers and takers

This is a more personal reason. I can have problems saying no to people. You could say I am a giver. I shared my locations in the past with people. I have helped some fellow photographers with locations, filling out tax forms, and with tips about selling photos, who suddenly turned their back on me, when I least expected that. Or some just asked for a location, but when I gave them the location they didn't even say 'thank you'.

Henry Ford once said: 'Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do'. I learned my limits (the hard way) and I don't want to just give anymore.

Reason 6: hard work

This reason is related to reason number 5. Finding good locations can be hard work. Sometimes you are just lucky to spot a nice place by coincidence but most of the time it is hard work. Most of the time I have been spending a lot of time to be able to find the nice spots. The nice spots in my area I know by now, but to get to know them took a lot of time and effort in the past. That effort is worth something and if you give people a location, you can expect something in return for the hard work that you did. At least you can expect a 'thank you'.

Challenge me

If, after reading my reasons why I don't share the exact locations of my photos, you still think I should give you the location, then challenge me. Give me a good reason. Because, there are good reasons to share locations. I am not a bad guy. :) I share my locations with a great group of fellow photographers that I completely trust and that also have given me some great locations. If you can give me something back, I will be open to share information with you. But don't expect that I will just give you a location. Know that that is not a realistic expectation. :) 

If you want to leave a remark after reading this, please post a comment below. I am interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.

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