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. On vacation or not, there are times when trying to get the perfect shot gets in the way of experiencing what it is you're trying to capture. It's something I try to remember.

    Decades ago as a kid, I asked for a camera for Christmas. My Mom bought me a Polaroid "One-Step" and my family gave me a bunch of packs of film. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind but I proceeded to take a ton of photos. My mother was dismayed that none of them were of people,- all nature shots or of things I was interested in. Later in life I figured out that as cool as that snowstorm was, there are millions of pictures of snowy landscapes out there, but only so many of my family and friends. So now I try to get pictures of people enjoying the snowy landscape. ;-)

    Anyway, vacation pictures serve a purpose. They let you enjoy the vacation again years later. You get to remember that trip to the secluded Island in the Caribbean all while forgetting how long it took the get there, the horrible wind the blew that canopy off the small boat and the relentless sun that proceeded to burn us all to a crisp on the way back.
    tholte likes this.
  2. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I was born in New Orleans, and I've shot a million "tourist-like" photos of the French Quarter and the city in general. If anyone thinks my photos are boring and repetitive, who cares? I don't.
    Jim_Nassar and Moving On like this.
  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    "I would like to think that Instagram should be reserved for one's better photos"

    Why? Who put you in charge of Instagram? And why do you care what other people do with their travels? And aren't those all copyright violations in that video?
    Jim_Nassar likes this.
  4. The pictures I have taken that I appreciate most are of people and places the have changed or are now gone.
    And old man's photographic perspective, I suppose.
    The first few lines of an old Beatles song come to mind.

    "There are places I remember
    All my life though some have changed
    Some forever not for better
    Some have gone and some remain
    All these places have their moments
    With lovers and friends I still can recall
    Some are dead and some are living
    In my life I've loved them all...."
    Lennon/ McCartney
  5. From an article on Stephen Shore's use of Instagram:

    "For most people on Instagram, the photograph is merely a servant to likability; it conveys what we like so that we will be liked in turn. For Stephen Shore, the photograph is anything but likable. It is a reminder that we should be conscious of the act of looking, to discern if what we see has meaning and if so, what is it."
  6. The author, in the brief quote provided, sounds condescending. The article is better than the quote. I've heard "I can do that" or "My 10-year-old could that" as a response to some art, and the article gives good reasons why those kinds of statements are worth rethinking.

    Some Instagram posters want to be liked. That's not as awful as the author is trying to make out. I think he's wrong when he says, "we should be conscious of the act of looking." Maybe he should be and maybe it's good advice for some photographers, but probably inapplicable to most Instagram users, who couldn't give a rat's patootie about the act of looking. They don't have time for it. They're probably on their way to biology class or to work at the fast food joint or to meet their boyfriend for a date.

    I'm one of the few who might just be interested in the act of looking and what meaning it has. Just like I don't appreciate being put down as some sort of intellectual snob or elitist for doing that, I don't like when others are put down or when servitude is mentioned in the same breath as them for liking likable things.

    Steven Shore did something important. No one is obliged to do what he did or to take pictures for the reasons he did or be made to feel they're servants of some lesser purpose because their goal in taking pictures isn't as lofty as one of the seminal photographers of our times.
  7. The author of the article (who is a she, does that make any difference perhaps hmm, lol) is simply pointing out a fact, not a rule to follow by. There's really no need to be so defensive towards the casual snapshot shooter, because as you say they simply do not care. Does it really needs to be pointed out that yes, we too who do make pictures with some intent behind it do get it that photography is used in a completely different way for most of the time by most of the people. So? That doesn't make the way most people use photography free from any criticism. Spare me the faux romanticism of it all...
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  8. Yeah, a real struggle for life that must be when you have the freedom to not only use your eyes but also your mind but find yourself "too busy".
  9. That's false. The author says, "It is a reminder that we should be conscious of the act of looking." She's not just pointing out a fact. She's telling Instagram users what they ought to be doing.
    I guess enough that you felt the need to point it out.
    I'll bet people love it when you argue with them so substantively.
    Of course not. I never said it does. To me, though, most people using Instagram for photos ought to be free from criticism by an art critic that their goals aren't similar to those of Steven Shore and that art critic should understand that Instagram photography doesn't generally have much to do with "the act of looking," because it's something very different from what she's talking about. It's like saying my making a quick piece of toast and a plain scrambled egg in the morning before work is lacking acute culinary variety and spice, so important to the art of cooking. All I'm looking to do is get something quick into my stomach.
    Don't get what's faux romantic about my thoughts.
    Going to biology class is probably a more important use of a student's mind to them than thinking about the act of looking when posting a pic to Instagram. It's about priorities. Not everyone uses their minds for what this critic wants them to.
  10. You seem to have completely missed the premise of the article, which isn't about how Instagram photos should be the same as the work of someone like Stephen Shore but rather is about how Stephen Shore's methodology and use of the vernacular wasn't and isn't that much different from what you could find on Instagram today, except for the seeing part, but which also happens to be the part that all photographs potentially share no matter by what kind of photographer they were made.

    Unless one really sucks at biology but is great at photography. Then going to biology class is a waste of time compared to thinking about the act of looking photographically and posting such thoughts visually on Instagram. And since you also mentioned working in a fast food joint and meeting on a date what you said wasn't so much about the importance of how a student's mind is being used but also about the time spent being perceived as obligatory by said student. Well that's up to them and it is their individual responsibility if they really do care for something different or more important to do, and hence my response.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  11. No, I didn't. As I said, the article was much better and more insightful than the unrepresentative quote you chose to post. My arguments are with isolating that quote and what those few lines have to say, not the article as a whole. In terms of criticism, my argument was with what you said about it, not as much what she said about it.
  12. Yes I do think it's important to point it out. Men are percieved to be emotionally more aggressive and less agreeable than women in the making of their arguments. That's because in general men are more aggressive and less agreeable than women. Whether or not the article is written by a man or a woman has indeed no consequence to the quality of the article (if the article does in fact make valid points like I think this one does) but it can make a difference of how the 'voice' of the article is being perceived if one reads it with a preconceived bias, like I suspect you were doing.
  13. Oh boy. Seriously Fred. Do yourself a favor. Be real already. The quote I posted was the conclusion the author of the article made. Right under the quote I posted a link to the article, because I want people to read what the article has to say about Shore and (Instagram) photography for coming to such a conclusion. So do you agree with the article or not?
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  14. She has some good things to say and some insightful remarks about Shore's work. But I think the article is lacking in a lot of ways. Her subhead suggests that Shore's photos encourage different ways to construct meaning. I don't think she fleshes that out enough. As a matter of fact, she spends too much time telling us he's taken seriously because of his biography as opposed to ways in which his photos construct different photographic meanings. In many ways, she seems more struck with him than with his photos. For instance, she says, "So, for all their superficial similarities to amateur photography, Stephen Shore’s pictures are not the result of happy accidents or random choices. They are the consequence of a lifetime of study of vernacular photography." She then goes on to give a little more biography to support her observation that the pictures are not the result of happy accidents or random choices. But she doesn't really look or talk about what we might see in the photos themselves that supports this. I mean, sure, she goes on to give some examples, like West 9th Avenue, Amarillo, Texas, but really covers the photos rather briefly and superficially in terms of the relationship between visuals and meaning, IMO. She dwells more on biography and process than the photos, and so doesn't really fill in the blanks much for her basic premise about his photography and the construction of meaning.
  15. No. She clearly writes that the biography is a part of the answer and that part is explained further by the mention of influences like Szarkowski (himself a champion of the vernacular and snapshot aesthetic in photography) and Warhol and from which any further photographic meaning is to be derived, if the photographs can indeed arrive at any meaning at all beyond the language of photography itself.
  16. Precisely, an emphasis not on what we are seeing but on what we know about the photos, their context, their place in history, their relationship to other critics and photographers. All important stuff and stuff I'm glad she talks about. But it's mostly to the exclusion of also just looking at the photos themselves and talking about what's important in what she, herself, sees in them, in the photos themselves. You've illustrated my point nicely.
  17. What the author is talking about is Shore's photography (in light of Instagram) and which is all about the photos themselves (and their relevant history in the context of photography). It's the diiference between the photograph being the subject (Shore) and having a ready subject that's supposedly worthy of photographing (Instagram).
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  18. I travel a lot and I rarely go where tourists go. That said my photography serves the same social function as the billionth photo of the Empire State Building: to remind me of something I saw that I felt was important. Is it annoying that everyone takes a picture of a Starbucks cup, their own legs, their meal? Yeah. But you can't outlaw it or even say it's below what anyone else photographs. The trick as I see it is to make the old new again. For example at Niagara Falls, I don't photograph my family or the falls. I take pictures of tourists with selfie sticks taking selfies of themselves :D
    tholte and Moving On like this.
  19. LOL.

    I'm not sure if you're being facetious or not, but assuming you actually do this and judging by the 10 photos you have posted here, you'd do a better job of photographing selfie takers taking selfies at tourist spots than most people. Ironically, in general, I'd have to say that most photos of other people taking selfies are actually quite a bit less interesting than the photos of the tourist attractions that might be taken instead, even if cliché. That's because the photo of the person taking a selfie shows mostly as nothing more than a snapshot the photographer thinks was a clever move. These photos of selfie-takers are becoming more and more ubiquitous and cliché, IMO. For the most part, I prefer a reasonably done photo of Niagara Falls to the typical photo I see of people taking selfies in front of Niagara Falls.

    You'd think maybe taking a photo of a selfie-taker would put it on a level beyond the "snappiness" of the selfie itself being taken. But in many cases it's actually worse than the selfie. Because the selfie comes across as at least genuine . . . "I was here and I'm having fun and I want you to see me here having fun and I'm not trying to do anything more than that with my camera." The photo of the selfie, again not necessarily yours because I sense you'd give it more, often just looks like an easy-to-come-across gimmick.
    john_sevigny|2 likes this.
  20. I love photographing selfie takers.
    Carmel Beach 14e_1.jpg
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