Why we at PhotoHound believe that sharing great photo locations with other photographers is a good thing…
When we talk to others about PhotoHound and how proud we are to have created a platform where we can share the world’s best photo spots with others who are equally passionate about travel and photography, we’re often asked variations of the same question: “But don’t you worry that in sharing photo locations you’ll encourage the masses to already over photographed places?”
It’s a question we completely understand, and we too share these concerns. However, whilst not pretending to have all the answers, or to know the best way to deal with the complex issues of rising tourism and the onslaught of social media, on balance we’ve decided that sharing photo locations with the travel photography community is a good thing and it enhances a craft we love…here’s why:
We have the opportunity to showcase all that is good about photography
In PhotoHound we see an opportunity to create a community of photographers united by a common goal – to nurture the planet we love to shoot and always be mindful of our surroundings.
Our intention at PhotoHound is to foster a community of photographers who share locations for the right reasons and lead by example when out in the field with their cameras. We can’t turn back the clock on Instagram or on the many ways people can now search for incredible places to photograph on this planet. We can’t turn the tide on increasing tourism and people wanting to capture beautiful locations on their travels. But what we can do is educate and remind people how to behave when there and to think about the consequences of their photography.
Without being preachy or confrontational (and accepting that sadly not everyone will use PhotoHound the way we intend it to be used) we can gently push back against the negative discourse that tars all travel photographers with the same “Instagram effect” brush. Through high quality, inspirational images, informative blog posts and video tutorials, through our social media posts and, in fact, through every action by the PhotoHound team, our Pro photographers and partners, we believe we can showcase a more responsible approach to travel photography.
Most spots shared on PhotoHound can be enjoyed without causing harm to the planet or others
The majority of spots shared on PhotoHound are locations that won’t be harmed or altered by other photographers shooting there. Many are city spots, roadside stops or places that can be photographed whilst following marked trails and pathways. Sometimes, if we’re honest, the real objection to the idea of sharing locations is down to ego; there are some photographers who like to keep their spots secret for their own gain, or just to keep them for themselves. We do understand and appreciate the joy of experiencing untouched and unspoilt moments in nature (although these are few and far between these days), but we’re really not keen on this idea of spot ownership or hiding locations that are only ok for us to photograph. There is a certain irony to complaining about other photographers being present at an awesome location that we’ve already photographed for ourselves!
Neither do we subscribe to the notion that if an iconic building or well-loved spot has been photographed numerous times already, then it shouldn’t be photographed by others as it’s no longer original or worth photographing. There are so many ways to find new challenges or experience pleasure in capturing a well-photographed place – different light, different mood and conditions, time of day or year, approaching with a different mind set or creative goal – the key is to find joy in shooting it for yourself rather than to compete for likes in an already saturated social media playing field. We actually think this might be the real enemy here – the desire for instant validation and recognition by others is what often drives people to behave irresponsibly and without thought for others when at a beautiful photo spot. Sadly rational thought often vanishes in the quest for likes and followers.
What we are keen on is that photographers understand how to photograph at any location, be it known or unknown, and do so sympathetically and with respect – and we see that PhotoHound can play a key role in this. If people are already searching the internet for top places to photograph and discover PhotoHound in doing so, what a great opportunity we have to show them a way to enjoy their photography whilst being more mindful of their surroundings and other people!
We share with our planet in mind
Every spot on PhotoHound is curated before being made public so that fragile or sensitive spots can be rejected or removed. We communicate with contributors to guide them through the process of adding spots, help them improve the quality and accuracy of information they add and inform them when spots are inappropriate, potentially unethical or dangerous. On launch we will also have pop-up reminders to notify our community when extra care needs to be taken at a spot – for example to stay on board walks and not trample wild flowers, to respect the privacy of locals as they go about their daily lives, or to keep a safe distance so as not to disturb wildlife. We never publish spots that are fragile and we won’t publish spots where habitats might be disturbed or destroyed by making them public and we make this clear in our guidelines for adding spots.
Our aim is to get photographers who use PhotoHound to think about the motivation behind each shot and the impact it will have on our planet or others. For this reason we’ve developed the PhotoHound Code of Responsible Photography and will encourage our community to pledge to live and photograph by it. We are also working closely with Nature First, a growing alliance of photographers committed to promoting responsible nature photography. We will also give back to nature and the environment once our paid-for Plus Membership plan is in place – we’ll donate 5% of each annual subscription to our partner charities, one of which will be Eden Reforestation Projects.
Most importantly, we’re keen travel photographers ourselves with a love of nature and wildlife so we don’t want to see any part of the planet destroyed by our craft. We’ll always be listening and reacting to what is happening on PhotoHound, so if our community is telling us that they believe the publishing of a spot is causing a problem at a location they cherish, we’ll talk to them and if necessary we will remove that particular spot from our map.
What if we could help photographers discover alternatives to the ‘honeypot’ spots?
The beauty of a global community of local photographers is that it enables us to share alternatives to the iconic or so-called honeypot spots. We can show photographers some of the quieter but equally beautiful locations, leading them away from spots that are overcrowded and busy. Local photographers who know a location inside out and have shot there in all possible conditions can give valuable insights and tips to others visiting for the first time, including ways to photograph respectfully without unwittingly causing damage.
Often the more iconic spots have become even more so due to ease of getting to them. There might be another incredible viewpoint just around the corner a short walk or drive away. Being photographers ourselves we appreciate the value of this and would definitely make the effort to head to quieter, lesser known spots given the chance. Sometimes we’ve asked ourselves this teaser as a team; “what if every possible photo spot was shared so that anybody could find and photograph them (fragile spots aside)? Would we all spread out a little bit more? Would it mean our bucket lists would become more original if photographers had more options?
So, whilst we can’t claim to have the answers to all of these questions, as we add amazing spots to PhotoHound on a daily basis we continue to bear them in mind and as a team we’re always striving to share with integrity. We know we won’t please everyone with our approach to sharing photo locations, but we hope we’ve made our motivations clearer and we’re more than happy to discuss our plans and ideas with you.
Thanks for reading – we’d love to welcome you into the PhotoHound community if you haven’t already joined us!