The Great Geo-Tag Debate

If you use Instagram, then you most likely know by now there is a geo-tagging option. This allows users to take a photograph at a beautiful park, a beach, a restaurant, or even a business and let everyone who sees the photograph know exactly where to find this place. On the surface, it seems completely harmless, and most people would not even give this a second thought when they enter the location on their photograph to share with their followers. However, a growing debate has started about the issues of geo-tagging, and how this is affecting ecosystems and areas around the World. 

A place near and dear to my heart is in the middle of this debate right now, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Back in November, Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors and residents to stop geo-tagging locations. They created the tag “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild” and asked that people use that geo-tag instead of tagging specific trails, locations, and landmarks. Over the years Jackson Hole and the surrounding parks have seen a huge rise in tourism, a rise that unfortunately, the ecosystem cannot handle. For example, Delta Lake years ago only had one or two hikers a day making the 9 mile trek to it, however now, park rangers are seeing around 145 people each day. What used to be outdoor enthusiasts and hikers, has turned into engagement shoots, product commercials, and tourists unequipped for a long hike. 

Jackson Hole isn’t the only location dealing with the geo-tagging issue though. Hong Kong has become a popular destination for hoards of photographers wanting to photograph the many residential buildings causing residents headaches. The Pacific Northwest has seen a rise in vandalism and traffic in hidden waterfall areas and on their coastline. South Africa has now posted signs asking photographers and visitors to stop tagging photographs of rhinos because of poachers. Urbanx and “Bando” photographers stopped tagging locations a long time ago because too many of the abandoned buildings and treasures they were photographing were being vandalized and destroyed completely. If you ask any of those photographers were a certain photograph is taken, there is a very very small chance you will get the answer and most will flat out tell you they aren’t going to disclose the location. 

Unfortunately, Instagram has started a new phenomenon of “do it for the ‘gram”, which is encouraging people to go further and further for the shot that is going to bring in the most amount of likes. Many times this shot is at the expense of the ecosystem. A perfect example of this is the group of Canadian tourists who traveled to Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park a couple of years back. They wanted the best shot they could get to promote their clothing company, so what did they do? They walked right off the boardwalk and on to Grand Prismatic to take their shot. Now they were caught, jailed, fined and banned from federal state land, however, each person who walks off that boardwalk does damage to the ecosystem and overtime this will have a large effect. 

Now all of this geo-tagging seems bad, but there is a small up side. It does help tourism, and that in turn drives economy. Geo-tags are getting more people out to enjoy our National Parks, and the beautiful sites the World has to offer. Geo-tags can are showing people gorgeous areas that are in their backyard that they haven’t seen yet. So how do we stop the “collect them all” type attitude when it comes to seeing all these precious sites and posting them all over Instagram? How do we let everyone enjoy these sites but also protect them at the same time? 

It’s tricky, but I think it can be done. First, photographers have the responsibility to follow all the rules and not break them just to get a shot. If a photographer with a large following is breaking the rules by stepping over boundaries, getting too close to wildlife, using a drone, or anything else, why would anyone else feel like they had to listen to the rules. Photographers must set a good example! When it comes to geo-tagging, I know I personally no longer tag specific sites when I post to Instagram. I will tag the entire park, or the city, but not the actual place. Also after researching this topic, I learned that a lot of the damage could be prevented if people were better informed. As with most things education is key. If photographers posted facts about the location, or taught their followers about Leave No Trace Behind, or facts about responsible camping and following park rules, I believe that would help. Many times people have a hard time seeing how their tiny steps off the trail or up these rocks affect the ecosystem because they are just one person, but teaching them about how over time and if everyone did that the affects it would have could change their thought process. I know from here on out I am going to try and include some facts in my captions because I think spreading knowledge is important. 

I’m curious where you stand on this debate. Is it something you had ever thought about? If so, what are your thoughts and what do you think should be done? Let me know! 

Combining Loves

If you follow me on Instagram (which if you don’t go follow me now @jkayephotography) then you will see by my posts and IG stories that I have recently rediscovered my love for fitness and being active. For example, in todays story you will see I set a personal record for my average pace per mile during my run, eek! I might be just a little excited :-) 

A little backstory though, so you can see why my recent move back into this is so exciting, and why I am so proud of myself. I was always active and playing sports growing up, and then as I got older slowed down a little bit. At the end of 2017, and then throughout 2018, fitness completely took a backseat. I was dealing with a pretty serious injury, life kept throwing curveballs at me, and I struggled to find the motivation to get back into the fitness world and lifestyle. At the end of 2018, things changed. 

October 2018 was when my life completely flipped upside-down. Because of this I decided I need to just jump back into working out (you might be seeing a trend here now, I tend to just jump into things without thinking). I started running, boxing and lifting again. These activities became the only thing I could turn to and count on. Bad day, go box. Stressed out, go run. Overwhelmed, go box and run. In the end, it seemed that working out was the one thing I would look forward to each day and the thing that kept me going. 

So now it’s January 2019, and this is the most consistent effort I have put into the gym in a long time. If I compare how I feel and who I was back in October to the person I am now, wow, it is crazy! I am physically and mentally stronger than I have ever been, and that is because working out has made me finally feel really good about myself and where I am in life right now. 

But enough about all that and all the sappy stuff, I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking, “But Jennifer, what does this have to do with photography?” Great question. It has to do with photography because I am finally getting into fitness photography! It was something that I had wanted to do and was never quite sure how to get into that world, but I made it a goal for 2019 to step out of my comfort zone and just do it (no pun intended Nike). I have already partnered up with a few gyms in the area and a few trainers, and I could not be more excited to see what is going to happen in the next couple of months! This week alone I already have 3 events with 2 different gyms, AND I have a pop up event with a wonderful trainer as well :-) To say this week is going to be busy is an understatement, and I am already booking fitness portraits for the following week! 

Here are a few of the fitness photographs that I took this week and I’ll be sure to post more in the future. Let me know what you think! And if you know anyone looking for a fitness event photographer or for portraits have them contact me.


Where Do I Begin?

So…where do I begin? I actually wondered if there was a right or wrong way on how to start a blog. After some googling, just to make sure I was not going to set myself up for failure, I learned there really is not. So we are just going to jump right into this blogging world and see how it goes! 

Starting this blog and jumping right in is actually very similar to how I started my photography journey. I didn’t study for years, I didn’t take classes, hell, I didn’t even ask anyone I knew who did photography to teach me. Instead, I took my brothers very old Canon Rebel, the lenses that he no longer used and deemed “not good”, and started watching youtube videos and just shooting. It was A LOT of trial and error, and I had many days that I wanted to throw the camera out the window or into a body of water, but I kept going and here we are now.

Since jumping right in seemed to work out for photography, I’m hoping that the same approach will work for blogging. 

Instead of doing the whole “Who Am I?” type post, and give you a boring and typical biography about me, I want to do something a little different. I think a good way to learn a little more about me is to tell you the 4 most important things (not including photography) that keep me going every day. 

  • Caffeine. 

    • Yes. I’m a caffeine addict, and cannot, and will not, give up my coffee. I look forward to my coffee in the morning, and most of the time I drink it black. Before doing shoots I also drink a sugar free Red Bull. So between coffee and Red Bull that is how I survive most days :-)

  • Running and Boxing.

    • I am one of the few crazy people that truly does love running. Now, I will say I do NOT love running indoors and on a treadmill, but if there is a foot of snow on the ground like there is today, then I settle for it. I am not afraid of running outside when it is in the 20s and 30s though, so I am one of those runners that most people drive past and think is insane because it is freezing outside. When I’m running though, it is when I can clear my head and start thinking of new ideas and things I want to do. I can honestly say that most ideas I’ve had recently I have come up with while running. Boxing for me is important, because when I feel like I am in my own head and thinking too much, then I need to box. It is the one time that I do not have time to think about anything else except, where are my hands and where is my head, so I don’t get hit. Luckily, both of these things keep me in decent shape.

  • Books. 

    • I love, love, love, to read. Huge nerd. End of story. 

  • Sports

    • I know I mentioned I am a caffeine addict, but I am also a sports addict. Saturday and Sunday mornings are reserved for Premier League Football, or as some of you guys are more familiar with, soccer. I’m a Chelsea fan, so let’s get that out of the way, Go Blues! When it comes to American Football, it is the Ravens all the way. And if you have taken a look at my sports photography page, then for hockey it should be clear I am a Capitals fan. I watch and follow a ton of other sports, but those are just the teams that I am die hard about and willing to argue with people about, haha! 

So there you have it. You know how I started photography, the 4 things I need daily to survive besides photography, and that we are just going to go full steam ahead with this blog. I plan on putting out new blog posts every Monday/Tuesday on a variety of topics. I want to blog about events I have done, trips I have taken, maybe even try out some new photography on here and see what you guys think. I am also open to suggestions for blog topics, so if there is something you want me to discuss, please feel free to let me know!

Now it is time to buckle up and see where this ride takes us!