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Photography in Tourism

by nate on November 14, 2009

Sometimes consumer photography in travel doesn’t capture the moment, but rather erases it.

consumerPhotography
When seeing the “must-sees” in travel (the monuments, the waterfalls, the cathedrals…) sometimes the experience is killed by 50 little silver cameras trying to get the exact same photo, except they’re lob-sided, over-exposed, ill-composed, or just wrong. The visitor wants to document the experience, so that that night they may review it on their camera, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll upload or print it, and never look at it again.

Honestly, compare the lifespan of these photographs with a nice memory of experiencing the sight. You traveled to see it, then only see it through the digital screen?

We recently went to a Cao Dai service, and basically it was impossible to enjoy it because everyone was trying to “capture” it. Two people had really nice SLRs and everyone else had little digitals. While I was sitting there, flashes going off everywhere, I thought there must be a solution to preserve the moment, while giving the “postcard” photo to all the people who want it.

The idea I had was very simple. A little digital box with a “shutter switch.” No lens, just a simple GPS. Every time you press the “shutter” the camera takes the exact location, and then downloads creative commons Flickr photos with the closest location metadata. It might sound bizarre to do something like this, but it’s quite interesting to see the locations for yourself, and then relive it through someone elses eye. A sort of digital recycling that’s fun and interesting.

Sounds like an iPhone app doesn’t it?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Ducote 11.14.09 at 10:43 am

I completely agree. One of my least favorite things about traveling is dealing with all the other tourists at the “tourist traps”. This is especially true when you realize that nobody there is really enjoying the experience and culture of the place, but instead they just want to photograph everything! It causes me to avoid those “must see” places and go where the locals go instead. Enjoy your journey! It sounds like ya’ll are having a blast and seeing some cool stuff! Oh, and I would definitely get that iphone app!

Ida 11.20.09 at 1:31 pm

Unless the service you mentioned happens regularly with few changes, a GPS shutter button won’t do you much good. That said, I can certainly sympathize with the frustration over reflexive moves to capture certain sights and events while traveling. What about a solution that would encourage people to take pictures with longer lifespans, pushing us to make work more like Dan Eldon and less like National Geographic? I’m still waiting to the digital equivalent of a physical travel journal. My thesis at Parsons was a failed attempt.

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