Have you ever been scrolling through your social media or flipping through a magazine or watching television while vegging out on the couch, and you see a landscape or a destination flash before your eyes that’s so beautiful, so utterly breathtaking, that you think:
“God, that would be, like, a perfect Instagram post?”
If you haven’t, then good for you, gold star, snaps all around, but chances are you’ve seen at least one or two locations or places that you’ve thought would give you all the likes on your Instagram, and so you go there with the intention of snapping your Insta-worthy pic…
Social media gets blamed for everything — but this time, it really is Instagram’s fault. Horseshoe Bend’s home, Glen Canyon Natural Recreation Area, also has the nation’s second tallest dam, boating paradise Lake Powell, and the world’s tallest natural bridge, Rainbow Bridge. It’s also littered with dinosaur fossils. But it is Horseshoe Bend that has captured the tourist hivemind. On IG, #glencanyon has only been used about 26,000 times, whereas #horseshoebend has 226,000 posts. Its geotag had over 200 posts in the last 24 hours as of this writing, while only one person geotagged Glen Canyon. The geotag for Rainbow Bridge hasn’t been used since Halloween. (Brent Knepper)
Knepper claims that popular Instagram-sexy locations damage and hurt the natural landscape of Mother Nature, implementing the need for more man-made structures (parking lots, shaded areas, food vendors, etc) to support the massive influx of tourists that are flocking with iPhone in hand to snap their photos of popular places like Horseshoe Bend.
Though Knepper acknowledges that there’s nothing wrong with going to these locations and snapping your photos, he more or less condemns the people who hit up Instagram-worthy spots and treat them like garbage.
AKA the people who ruin it for the rest of us.
Vance Creek Bridge is probably the most famous spot within the Instagram niche. It is the second-tallest bridge in the U.S.; it’s privately owned and is about a two-hour drive outside Seattle. Its location was revealed in 2012 on Instagram and since then, visitorship has just exploded. The railing company that owns the bridge has tried to slow down the amount of people visiting it by putting up a fence and then excavating the whole area around the bridge before it drops down over 300 feet towards the river. They haven’t been successful with that, and as a result of vandalism, graffiti and a couple of unresolved campfires that caught the bridge on fire — they’re just going to tear it down now. (Brent Knepper)
As someone who is a photographer and has taken quite a few risks to get pictures in strange/somewhat cough illegal-not-really-but-kinda cough locations, I know how important it is to keep your secrets close to your chest at the risk of people spoiling future shoots from not being as careful and cautious.
This year was a big year for abandoned building photography for me (gimme dat rust), and I got so many messages from people all over my province asking me where my locations were and how they could get to them themselves. I often politely declined sharing my shooting locations, not for fear of someone copying my shoots, but for fear of them injuring themselves or ruining it for others who might find more value in shooting in such a delicate location.
But at the end of the day, what do you think?
Do you think that Instagram is ruining Mother Nature? Do you think some world’s of the best-kept secrets are being exploited for social media stardom? Or do you think all of this is silly and people are overreacting?
After all, it is just Instagram at the end of the day…
I first dangled my feet over Horseshoe Bend years ago. I wasn’t afraid I’d fall. I didn’t worry the dozens of people around me would ruin the place. I just felt like I was a part of the landscape, briefly untethered from pesky civilization. To adventure seekers, the railings will dull the rush of standing at the canyon’s rocky edge. (Brent Knepper)