Respect It.

While out this past weekend trying to take pictures in the rain I paid a visit to a favorite local stream that has a lot of beautiful cascades and granite ledges. While wandering along a section of stream I particularly enjoy I came across a collection of letters, words actually, but since the theme for the week is letters that’s what I’m going with.




Nature, Respect It!.


When I looked down and saw “Respect It” written on the stone I thought I struck nature photography gold.

I thought I was about to make the most meaningful nature photo I would ever make.

“Nature, Respect It” popped into my head immediately. It was perfect. Perfect setting. Perfect sentiment.

If I was ever going to make a photo that represents my feelings about nature, and to motivate others to do the same, this was going to be it. If I could have met the literary genius who scrawled these words of wisdom on the rough granite I wouldn’t have been able to thank them enough.

As I said, it was perfect.


But was it perfect, really?

A thought occurred to me.

Regardless of the intentions of the author, is graffiti the proper way to instill a respect of nature?


What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Does this image convey the message that we should all respect nature? Or does it showcase someones total disregard for it, all the good intentions undone by one careless act?



45 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

    1. To the authors credit, the words were written on, not carved into the granite. So in time it will disappear.

      Your campers were quite the bunch. I wouldn’t even dream of bringing a generator. And I would bring my trash out with me when I left.

  1. Whoever scratched the message into the living lichens that took decades to develop may have had good intentions, but the message seems superfluous, invasive, and destructive. The message is inherent, to any with a modicum of sensitivity, in the surroundings. It needs no human attempts at elaboration or emphasis; in fact, they detract from it. Ideally, one should leave not even footprints.

  2. I get your philosophical thoughts here.

    Graffiti in the environment like this, for me, is out of place.

    Does it serve up an invitation for other’s to share there thoughts? Where would it end?

    Like you requested, just my 2 cents😊

    1. Sounds like we’re on the same page. Luckily this is off of a rural dirt road and doesn’t see a lot of traffic. Otherwise I’m sure there would be a lot more.

  3. there is a beautiful green space not far from my office, and i enjoy walking there among the giant Douglas firs and other trees. one day i saw that someone had spray-painted on one of the trunks, ‘save the trees’. i captured the image, however never posted it and completely forgot about it until i saw this.
    at the risk of repeating myself, i find there is wisdom in the following quote whichi heard somewhere years ago: leave only footprints; take only photos.

  4. Loved your thoughtful post Jeff and am fairly certain you feel as the majority do that the message was out of place and in conflict with its intent. If someone is down at the stream where they are close enough to see the message, they clearly are nature lovers already. Loved P&K’s message about someone spray painting ON the trees they’re suggesting we save. Seriously?!?!?

    1. Thank you Tina. I completely understand their motivation, however misguided their choice in ways to get their point across was. I little thought goes a long way 😉

  5. It’s one thing to engrave a stone on your own property, such as after pouring the concrete pad in the yard. It’s your…you made it, no problem. But nature is everyone’s place. I think a better example of respect for nature would be that practiced by the Native Americans when they were allowed to freely roam the lands. They took only what they needed to survive, used all of it…no waste and shared their knowledge from generation to generation.

  6. At first I thought it was great. Now I can only see it as a contradiction. Maybe that’s how they meant it? So that you would think more about the message? I don’t know.

    1. Emilio, like you I did think it was a very nice surprise when I first stumbled upon this. And that is an excellent point, one I hadn’t even considered. One will never know for sure. For all I know the intended meaning has absolutely nothing to do with respecting nature. That may simply have been how I interpreted it based on where I found it and my own feelings on the subject.

  7. I believe that Rock was full of joy to be used as a strong message to us humans. We need to be reminded that all of nature has a right to be on this earth equally. Nature needs to be protected and respected. Thank you for sharing- Belissimo-

  8. A sign on the shoreline might be more in keeping with the sentiment. Funnily, it’s the addition of the heart that really turned me against it – seems more like graffiti than a real conservation message.

    1. I think you may be right. I have a feeling that my own biases influenced the meaning I found in a word written on a stream side slab of granite.

    1. True… The photo works. But it’s just ironic how the writer has tried to send the message of respecting nature by himself trying to destroy it!
      It’s a weird contradiction…

      1. Yes, and I think that may be where the power of the message lies. If people stop to think about the contradiction they may be more inclined to actually respect nature.

    2. Exactly! At first glance I feel it does convey the message to respect nature. But as I view it more it occurs to me that graffiti isn’t the best way to get the point across.

      And maybe that’s where the true message lies. In the thought provoking nature of the image. The first impression is very positive, but then you think, “graffiti, is that really respecting nature?”

  9. Graffitis are meant to make the person who look at it reflect on something, obviously it did work and probably more than he expected because everyone looking at this photos is doing the same. I think it reached its purpose, the contradiction in this graffiti made some people think about the “Respect the nature” aspect.

    Some of our ancestor carved walls in cavern because they wanted to say something for the future generation, I do not think that the person who made that graffiti id bad. If he had done the graffiti with paint, that would have been something else

    1. Nelson, I should have read your comment before replying to Photography Journal Blogs comment. The thought provoking and contradicting nature of the graffiti and where it was placed might very well have been intended to get people thinking.

  10. Wonderful question. Lovely, stimulating, thoughtful post.
    It makes me happy the words were there, you found them, photographed them, and brought them back for us all to contemplate. I’m sure the lichen will grow back…. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you like it Kat. I do like Nelson’s idea that maybe the graffiti was intended to be thought provoking. How can you both respect nature and deface it at the same time?

  11. Love the concept, but no I don’t think graffiti on nature is very respectful. I do think graffiti can be respectful if someone has permission by the owner and the graffiti is truly a work of art.

  12. As a piece of art that interprets this week’s challenge, I like your photo. However, I find the carver’s act to be disrespectful. I don’t understand why people feel compelled to carve their initials in trees, dig up rocks along hiking trails to create cairns, etc. Each individual act may seem small but it adds up to change/damage the environment.

  13. That is a lovely interpretation of the carving on the rock. But reading the other commentors’ opinions, in a way this can be seen as an act of destruction towards nature. I’m inclined to think the carver meant no harm. I’m sure the words will fade over time. You must have had very sharp eyes to have spotted it 🙂

    1. I’m inclined to think that way as well. At least I hope they had good intentions. And I agree, within the year I’m betting the letters will have faded away and my photo the only record they were ever there in the first place.

  14. Striking picture, Jeff! It shows very well the human impact on the nature… This inscription is a form of vandalism and out of place but without it you wouldn’t get such a great image… 🙂

    1. Thank you Lucy. I’m not some raving tree-hugger, but I do believe that if we all respected nature even a little more we’d all be better off.

  15. Such a beautiful photo. I don’t have an opinion either way except to say that where there is space nature will fill it with something, as will the graffiti artist – to me they are both in harmony in this photo.

  16. For me it actually degrades the scene, and in a way is a contradiction in terms! If you thought that place was so beautiful why would you graffiti it! Good thoughts Jeff, and a great pic as usual.

    1. Thanks Jude, that does seem to be the general consensus. Honestly though, I have no idea if the message was even meant to inspire people to respect nature. Or just some graffiti the true meaning of which is only known by the person who wrote it.

  17. It’s a beautiful photo, but my first thought, before you even mentioned it was that the graffit showed no respect for nature. But again, wonderful shot!

    1. Not quite my first thought, it took a little longer to sink into my thick skull. My first thought was how perfect it was. Then I got to thinking, graffiti in/on nature as a sign of respect? I think maybe not so much.

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

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