I came to photography well after I started hiking and backpacking. Thus, my early sources of information about wild places all prominently featured advice about outdoor ethics, especially practices like Leave No Trace. If you are not familiar, the basic idea behind Leave No Trace is that travelers in the backcountry should strive to leave no evidence of their visit, minimize their impact, and if possible, improve the condition of the places they visit (leaving a campsite in better condition than you found it, for example). With many wild places experiencing increased visitation, human impacts can cause significant damage if visitors do not show this kind of respect and care during their visits.
Increasingly, it seems like some landscape photographers do not view these principles for outdoor ethics as applicable to our kind of outdoor pursuit and the damage left behind is becoming obvious in an increasing number of spots. I have recently engaged in a few online discussions on this topic and have found some of the responses disheartening, with some portraying the attitude that they are entitled to a photograph regardless of their impact. Other arguments favor a dismissive tone, downplaying any specific example as an exaggeration for nothing more than making a point or so minor that it doesn't matter (trampling some plants is no big deal). All this seems to be a sign of the times, with daily stories about how the forces of willful disregard, ignorance, entitlement, and narcissism combine to do a lot of damage to special places (click on the links for a sampling: national parks in general, the Appalachian Trail, Sedona, Death Valley, and Joshua Tree).Read More