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The ubiquitous tourist and their camera has made me laugh and cry several times on this trip.

The obsession with cameras is getting out of control. It’s no longer about photography but appears to be instead some kind of crazy disease that has taken hold of people. Each place I visit has become an arena where people come to battle for the best shot – all elbows and narrowed eyes.

Those infected loosely fall into the following categories:

1. The ‘I see, IPad’ ers:

You can’t miss these tourists as they block their own view with tablet- sized shields. I know they can’t be serious as the tablet camera is crap and they look like COMPLETE AND UTTER DICKS the type of person you want to avoid waving their iPads around sites of merit. Their albums are full of awkwardly posed relatives leaning on railings or standing hand on hip in front of monuments. These pictures are likely to be tilted due the weight and difficulty associated with trying to hold steady these stupid objects. Stop it (enough said).

2. The ‘my finger is glued to this button’ pocket cam- ers:

These tourists snap everything in sight. Their fingers are permanently bent and glued to the button on top of their tiny cameras. They pay no heed to light, framing, distance or context and will happily shoot anything as long as they are, well, shooting something (anything). They will return with thousands of poorly lit, poorly composed shots of things in the very far distance that are impossible to make out and will instead require convoluted and excited explanations that just don’t cut-through on the retelling. I guess you had to be there.

3. The ‘blockbuster’ directors:

These tourists capture everything on film (I assume) for prosterity but in so doing miss experiencing the places they visit for real. They’re the ones filming the entire boat cruise or their boring ‘pleasant’ walk around the cathedral. To these people I can only say god help the relatives you force to watch these hand-held, stomach-churning, art-less ‘documentaries’ when you get home. Uggggh.

4. The always inappropriate flashers:

These are the ones that go into places like Notre Dame, ignore the signs that say ‘no flash photography’ and proceed to take dozens of photos with flash while a service is taking place. They can be any of the above but have that special insouciance that leads to heightened obnoxiousness through the combination of incessant, desperate picture taking with an expressed desire to blind holy people (and me ffs) as they do so.

5. The ‘too cool for school’ instagramers:

Yeah, so this one is me. No moral high ground except to say I’m only clocking 20 or so photos a day and each one is a careful composition designed to make my family and friends as jealous as possible (ok, so maybe I’m obnoxious too). I choose the ones I keep based on how well they filter.

6. The wannabe pros:

I saw a guy set up an exxy camera on tri-pod outside the Louvre pyramid carefully considering light, framing and placement. He looked the goods. The issue was that he then proceeded to use his remote to take shots of him awkwardly posing with his girlfriend (see type 1 above) The moral of this story is if you are going to invest in the kit please, for the love of god, take some decent pictures.

My final two cents: photos, unless great, never ever wholly capture your experiences or the places you visit. Your best memories will always be created by living and breathing in a place. Let photography support that experience, enhance it with well- thought out compositions, but never ever let it dictate it (especially when you’re not very good at it).

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4 thoughts on “Hey tourist, leave that camera alone

  1. This sounds creepy but I like to touch things… (stop you dirty minded people). I’m talking actually using one of your senses you don’t think of using when traveling. Feel the texture of a castle wall, the coldness of the metal in the Eiffel Tower and the coarseness of a seaside grass. Helps embed different memories that a photo can’t provide.

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  2. Totally. I wonder how many pictures of the Eiffel Tower exist either on a memory card, computer, iproduct, film and as a print… How many people stand in front of it, snap and walk away saying they have seen it but nothing else. I love the Sydney Harbour bridge for this. Where as I have a picture, I have also walked across the bridge to the other side, sat in a cafe and looked back. I have gone underneath and put my hands on one of the big bolts and amazed at the engineering.
    Great blog post Anika

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  3. Pingback: An apology: Prague | Spokenly

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