Couple That Died in Yosemite: 'Is Our Life Worth Just One Photo?'

Couple That Died in Yosemite: 'Is Our Life Worth Just One Photo?'

A young couple fell to their deaths in Yosemite National Park last week. We should all take it as an unfortunate reminder: no photograph is worth your life

According to NPR, Vishnu Viswanath, 29, and his wife Meenakshi “Minaxi” Moorthy, 30, a couple of Indian heritage living in the San Francisco Bay Area, fell around 800 feet into Yosemite Valley from Taft Point. Their bodies had to be recovered by park rangers using technical climbing techniques and helicopter support. 

The details of the accident are still developing, but there’s one part of the story that all photographers need to think about.

In an Instagram post from March, Moorthy posted a photo of herself sitting on a rock ledge watching a sunset. In the caption, she writes,

“A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs ⛰and skyscrapers🌆, but did you know that wind gusts can be FATAL??? ☠️ Is our life just worth one photo?”

The irony of that statement, and of what happened to Moorthy and her husband, is not lost on me, and it shouldn’t be lost on you. Sometimes, we need to practice what we preach. I’ve been known to go out on ledges and put myself in sticky situations just to get a photo, but I know I need to keep in mind that, at any time, something could go wrong somewhere and that the risk I’m taking could turn into something much, much worse in a heartbeat. 

In a world where gaining “followers” is paramount, and the urge to “influence” gains more and more characteristics of addiction, it’s going to be vital for people to remember that no photograph, no follower, no “like” is worth dying for. 

Be careful, folks.

Stephen Ironside's picture

Stephen Ironside is a commercial photographer with an outdoor twist based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. While attempting to specialize in adventure and travel photography, you can usually find him in the woods, in another country, or oftentimes stuffing his face at an Indian buffet.

Log in or register to post comments

I think she pushed her husband off the cliff. She was spotted alone and people said she was there for hours with no camera and no husband. Then she probably jumped. She wrote of depressing days. I guess being a travel blogger is not all it is cracked up to be?

What even? Do you have a source to back this up?

Wife, 30, who plunged to her death in Yosemite was perched on the edge of Taft Point for hours with no backpack or camera on night of fatal fall - and hikers saw no sign of husband.

Yosemite death plunge wife, 30, pictured alone on edge of canyon in random hikers’ selfies on night she died

The Sun and The Daily Mail


photo credit: Bigfoot

You can't make out who that is in the second article. A tiny silhouette is hardly proof of anything. And in the first article, the closeup doesn't even look like the same person, except for hair color. Even the haircut is different.News flash: that's a popular color.

It is very clearly her to my eye. Look at the last pic down the page in the Mail article and you will see the face and eyes are the same. Also, there was hardly anyone else there. Her expression looks downcast in her final lone picture, like she knows he is down there. Extremely sad.

Very spurious tabloid right wing rags from the UK. I would not believe anythign they say.

It really is a risk that is not justified at all. I just recently fall from a hill a few months ago and since then my steps have been careful. Nothing justifies the exchange of a photograph for health problems. In my case the damage was only material, but a simply had lots of luck.

Well, isn't that special!

Agree 100%. People are simply incredibly, unbelievably and utterly stupid these days. Anything for 2 minutes of fame on social media. Really sad times we live in.

I remember hearing a park ranger at GCNP commenting on a handful of college-age kids making their way to some rocks overhanging the south rim cliff "we lose a couple of these every year".

Almost as bad as someone that gets hit by a train...

how the hell do people die from selfies on the train? every train ive seen that comes to an intersection or station blows his horn like a km away? do people not hear it? the horn is so strong.

«…blows his horn like a km away? do people not hear it?»
Actually, they don't. Experiments have proven that.

Don't have time to explain it, yet again, in yet another article.

Not, “they don't die,” but rather, “they don't here it.”

(Did you really think that experiments “proved” that people don't die on train tracks?)
Will add clarity to the reply.

abdul jabbar, youre giving me a headache with your nonsense. move along.

Right! Because you are unfamiliar with the studies, and you cannot understand why people with their backs to a train cannot hear it, it must therefore be nonsense.

So go ahead and move along, but remember, YOU were the one who asked, “do people not hear it?” I suggest you do not ask questions to which you do not want the answer.

[EDIT] The obvious answers are; ① They hear it, but fail to move in time because they are stupid, ② they hear it but the intent was suicide, ③ they do not hear it. Kinda obvious as to which option is actually likely. [/EDIT]

gotta thin the herd somehow, bring balance back to the universe

Thin the heard... or thin the viewed? /instagram


I almost slid off a steep cliff of the Tabernacle Dome in Zion. And did many foolish things while hiking in the Southwest, but now as a father of two I would think twice.
Sad that those guys died.
But somehow I don’t feel as bad when I read that someone died trying to get a selfie.

Some people are dare devils. Be it photographers, mountain climbers, race car drivers, skydivers or scuba divers. It is in their nature. I am like this. As a scuba diver, I will go deeper than others to get a shot. Is it more risky, yes, but that is me. The planet wouldn't be how it is without risk takers. Sure, some risks are pointless, but we need people like this IMO.

...and I ride a motorcycle both on road and off road. I you were eaten by a giant squid or if I rode into a redwood and died, there would be the usual "Darwin Award!" "Stupid is as Stupid does" Thin the herd" "No Sympathy!" comments. Gotta love the internet.

I'm OK with that. It's a good thing I don't care what most people think of me. We are all different and as long as you're not hurting anyone else, I say embrace your joy.

If this wasn’t suicide, and actually an accident I hope others “doing it for the ‘gram” take note.

On a morbid note, they probably had their camera on a 2-sec timer and their demise is probably recorded. Maybe they used a remote or phone app, but otherwise that camera probably shot until full or battery depleted.

Hard to feel bad for someone who CLEARLY knew the risks.

Still sad regardless of reason....

Regardless of if it was their fault or not, a tragedy is a tragedy. It was a bad choice that led to bad consequences, but we should still have some respect for the dead and their families.

I recently had a situation where in order to get the photo I wanted, I had to jump across and climb some moss covered rocks at the base of a waterfall deep in a forest. I opted NOT to risk my life for a shot that may have turned out to be "fine" and get like 70 likes on Instagram, given I had a baby on the way (who is now here). I'd like to get my name out there as much as the next photographer, but not this way, nothing is worth dying like this. I'd rather be a unknown living coward than a famous dead fool.

I always wonder why other types of accidents don't get these comments. When someone dies in a road accident on the way to the cinema, no-ones says "No film is worth dying for, what an unnecessary risk to get on the motorway just to see a film". We all take risks everyday, and most of what we do is unnecessary.

That's a pretty narrow-minded view of the situation at hand. Yes, risks are a part of life. But surely you can see the difference between someone "risking their life" driving to the grocery store vs someone doing chin ups off the edge of a skyscraper.

Yep, I see the difference, but I see standing on Taft point as closer to driving on the motorway than doing chin ups off the edge of a skyscraper, which I agree is a risk too far.

When I was in the age range of those poor folk, I did some dumb stuff. I am 72 crawling to 73. Jumping off roofs to another building below. Go under a bridge over rivers to climb up and down the steel rafters. Good thing no cameras to take selfies or am sure I would not be here on planet earth. I thought of myself as "bulletproof". Never cared or thought of consequences of my actions. My sons followed in my steps, skydiving in dubious areas of the US. Deep dives in scuba gear next to rocks thrashing with torrent waves. In the ancient of days someone wrote, "there is nothing new under the sun". So it goes. I was an adrenalin junkie. Risk has great rewards, some end in tragedy. I hope some "do-gooder" builds a 30 ft wall so we can make our own decisions.