Video: an example of how so many people take the same tourist photos again and again

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Karim Ghantous, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. "Social media encourages the memeification of human experience. Instead of diversity we see homogeneity. It’s extremely boring."


    I guess nobody gets hurt. But it does show that people do spend too much time taking photos which are as uninteresting as they are similar. I would like to think that Instagram should be reserved for one's better photos.
  2. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    good lord, you used an adjective other than ‘interesting’ to describe a photo. impressive.
    Norma Desmond likes this.
  3. Actually, what's boring is just this type of observation, which is now about as cliché as observations come.

    To begin with, the premise seems wrong to me. People have been taking similar tourist pictures for as long as cameras and tourism have co-existed. It's not something social media invented, though it may be helping make it a somewhat bigger phenomenon.

    And then, it's probably best to ask who they're uninteresting to and whether "diversity" is a relevant concept here. I've always felt tourist photos (my own included) are about some combination of memorializing and ownership. "I remember" and "I was there." One can put it down as "homogeneity" but then one would be putting down something shared both within and across cultures. Tourist icons are tourist icons for a reason . . . because they have shared appeal often highlighting important moments in shared histories.

    Let's compare notes a minute. Some people travel a great distance, breathe the fresh air, walk along the river and a great field to experience the majesty of Half Dome. Part of the process is often grabbing a cell phone and taking a picture of it. Other people who call themselves artists take moody pictures of other people or angled pictures of trains and commuters in their downtown areas or pictures of weeds against brightly-colored backgrounds.

    Which group gets to claim that the other group spends too much time taking uninteresting pictures?

    I think the "memeist" thing about the days of social media (and I think unlike taking tourist photos people do get hurt here) is how easy and infectious it can make judging what others do.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
    denny_rane likes this.
  4. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    its all been done before... over and over again. we like to think our photos are unique with a different perspective. what may change one from another is the quality. how many variants can you expect when millions of photos of the same thing have been taken every year?

    for example, your avitar... not very unique. it looks like everyone else's.
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Tourist photos, the social media 'obsession' aside, can be explained simply as souvenirs in the original sense of the word. When I look at photos I have taken on long ago trips, many times they are triggers for specific memories, details of an experience which may otherwise be thought of only in general terms. Obviously as a photo enthusiast, I try to get a different rendering or point of view on subjects that are common tourist fodder, but the functional value of the images, to me at least, remains the same, regardless of outcome.
  6. I've never understood why tourist travel half way around the world, from far more interesting places than here, and photograph a potted plant.
    Moving On likes this.
  7. “When I look at photos I have taken on long ago trips, many times they are triggers for specific memories,details of an experience which may otherwisebe thought of only in general terms.” That’s it.....I call them shoebox photos, I am processing mine to digital for family, and they are all master memory templates...;)
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
    Ed_Ingold likes this.
  8. They are my photos to do with what I wish. I need nobody's permission, and have the original resolution and quality to work with.They represent my perceptions my memories, and occasionally things I can frame or just display for my friends and relatives. If I have time, I construct at least a mental "story" to illustrate, but just seeing things for the first rime is a rush.

    Around the end of the 19th century, the director of the US Patent Office declared that his job was superfluous. There was nothing important left to patent. Six years later, the Wright brothers flew an heavier-than-air machine for the first time. Then the director could rest easy ;)
  9. The internet is the validation placebo of the masses....
  10. It is possible to take photos that no one has taken before while on vacation. The wall at Tunnel View in Yosemite is always lined with tripods taking the billionth cliched shot down the valley. Saturated or converted to b&W or with fog, still the same shot from the same place. How many folks put a subject on the wall, light her with off camera light/u mbrella on a stick? Not many. One of my favorite comments on my work, her ex husband was ticked I made her look so good. I took 50 lbs off her with lighting and posing seated sideways on the wall. Not heavy or bulky gear, actually lighter than a tripod, I had humped it all over the valley for 3 hours before shooting. However if tourists are simply trying to capture a reminder of the place, their shots fulfill their purpose of the shot.
  11. Right. I think it 's very helpful to understand the difference between what most tourists are after and what a seasoned photographer may be after. While it's certainly possible to take a somewhat unique pic of a tourist site, that's simply not what most tourists care about.


    Honestly, it's not what a lot of seasoned photographers seem to care about either. Sunsets, anyone? Now, sure, seasoned photographers will be interested in getting the colors just so and their vibrancy just so, and they'll do it in a way, hopefully, to minimize noise and distracting elements, and the good ones will make very appealing and pleasing sunset photos, worthy of being hung on the wall and oohed and ahhed at. But they're basically taking very similar pictures of sunsets that every other seasoned photographer of sunsets has taken. It's very often less about taking a picture no one has taken before and more about successfully putting together all the elements one already knows make a good picture.

    Which is why the OP and the author of the video linked and any one of us might actually find ourselves standing among those we look down our noses at.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  12. Familiarity breeds contempt......
  13. Nice zinger, Mark. It's good to have a talent like that! :p
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  14. That's an old quote, from Aesop I think.
    No talent on my part...
  15. I knew you were quoting. Heard it before. I believe it was originally Chaucer. In any case, don't be so modest, lol. Applying a cliché like that to a situation to get a good gotcha moment does take a certain type of talent.

    I like what Vladimir Horowitz said, owning his talents:
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  16. Susan Sontag wrote about this phenomena almost four decades ago in On Photography :

    "Photographs help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure. Thus, photography develops in tandem with one of the most characteristic of modern activities: tourism. For the first time in history, large numbers of people regularly travel out of their habitual environments for short periods of time. It seems positively unnatural to travel for pleasure without taking a camera along. Photographs will offer indisputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had."


    "The very activity of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation that are likely to be exacerbated by travel. Most tourists feel compelled to put the camera between themselves and whatever is remarkable that they encounter. Unsure of other responses, they take a picture. This gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph, and move on. The method especially appeals to people handicapped by a ruthless work ethic — Germans, Japanese, and Americans. Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures."

    I see the video as simply being an observation. I'm sure a similar compilation could be made showing images of works of art. The difference between the artist and the tourist though is that the former is more likely to quote the work of other artists as a means to honor or pay homage of what has come before whereas the tourist is slavishly following a routine of what has been deemed worth looking at.

    Human experience is uniform. It's this uniformity that art relies upon yet without being uniform itself.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  17. You could say the same about verbal cliches.

    Out of curiosity, in what way do you represent the masses, as a member, leader, or paid spokesperson ;) Most people who speak regarding the "masses" consider themselves above the fray.
  18. I'm here......;)
  19. What are you supposed to do on vacation? If you didn't take any photos you were never there.
    Mark Keefer and Norma Desmond like this.
  20. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Have great food, see amazing sights, mingle with the residents, lightly overindulge on excellent local beverages, and of course capture lots of photos. Even if both cameras failed, I'd still have "been there"! :)
    Mark Keefer and Moving On like this.

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