We all see the posts. Those of beautiful places that pop up on our Instagram or Facebook feeds of endless mountain landscapes on perfect days with a person perfectly placed in the shot. People want to have these experiences and these days there are many more exploring the backcountry, which is in some part due to social media influence. But is it a bad thing to have more people experience wild places? Are they educating others on the merits of protecting the environment through inspiration or is it a selfish act to “conquer” nature and come back with a curated image that allows them to sculpt their online persona? Am I guilty of this? Absolutely! My style as a pro photographer is to showcase beautiful locales and the adventures I go on. I don’t show everything from behind the scenes because it would definitely bore those who I am trying to inspire and entertain. So, is it wrong to inspire others to travel into the wilderness via a curated lifestyle?
Backcountry access is definitely a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have generations of people who are experiencing the splendour of wilderness and becoming advocates for protection. But on the other hand, an increase in rec users puts more pressure on the backcountry and can marginalize plant and animal species and have detrimental impacts on the environment. Plans have already been put in place in many parks to limit the number of users, which I think overall is a good idea…but does this stop others from accessing it themselves? I am always a firm believer that we should educate and inform our family, friends and communities on proper practices when out in the backcountry. We don’t all have to go to the same place to get that image that everyone sees on social media, even though those places can be accessible and spectacular. Social media has opened a generation to wild places and the beauty that exists there but we have to understand the cliché saying; it is about the journey, not the destination. That journey includes being respectful, teaching others, abiding by best practices and also being passionate and grateful for these lives we get to live. It comes down how we use the medium and how the experience influences us.