The latest topic on Twitter’s increasingly successful hashtag #TTOT is set to be centred around travel photography. So far, most of the questions posted by the travel community have been centred around the best kind of apps, the best kind of cameras, the craziest picture you’ve ever taken etc etc. But there’s a much more pressing question in regards to travel photography: the transformation – or degradation – of reality to a mere image on a computer screen.
My experience with travel photography is very limited. You know…. I take a camera travelling with me, and I try to take some decent shots… but aside from the odd beautiful picture taken probably by complete chance, the majority of my photos consist of ridiculous in jokes, personal memories and snippets of places that I’ve loved (see below). I would judge that this is true with the majority of people who go away – whether it’s a weekend city break or a year long backpacking trip.
Last summer I took a tour of Costa Rica with G Adventures. (read about the first couple of days on said tour here) As a group we visited some incredible places. Truly take-your-breath-away-I-never-want-to-forget-this kind of places. One place that vividly sticks out in my memory of the trip was a beautiful restaurant at the top of a mountain near Manuel Antonio. The view overlooked the ocean, and – as cheesy and clichéd as this scenario is – we watched the sun slowly set over the course of an hour, drinking beers and watching the sky turn from azure, to dusky pink, and finally to black.
Well. A couple of people did at least. The idyllic little picture I’ve just painted wasn’t the whole truth. Add a couple of very American 20-something girls exclaiming every two minutes how super AWESOME this view is?! And announcing that we should totaaaallly get a picture! Group shot! Will you take a picture of me? Can I take a picture of you? Shall we get another group shot??!?!?! Look at this cute picture I just took!! AH MY GAAHHD! And, well, that’s a bit closer to the truth.
These girls aren’t unlike a lot of people. They wanted to take pictures of the amazing scene in front of them to remember their trip. To show their friends where they were and why they paid all that money to go there. But by doing this, they absolutely missed out on just sitting there and appreciating what was before them. The picture became more important to them than the real thing.
Don’t get me a wrong, I am a fan of social media. Clearly. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Smart Phones… they all make taking pictures easy and accessible to everyone – which is a very, very good thing. You can enjoy and share an experience with friend, family and even strangers hundreds of miles away from the comfort of your living room. But when amazing views and interesting people become only the next tweet or facebook update, maybe it’s time that everyone prises their eyes away from the glare of a screen to take in a bit of reality.
In-joke versus a pretty cool picture. Skillz.