Write a brief response (around 200 words) to Graham Clarke’s comments above. Do you think it’s possible not to be a ‘tourist’ or ‘outsider’ as the maker of landscape images?
“… the landscape photograph implies the act of looking as a privileged observer so that, in one sense, the photographer of landscapes is always the tourist, and invariably the outsider. Francis Frith’s images of Egypt, for example, for all their concern with foreign lands, retain the perspective of an Englishman looking out over the land. Above all, landscape photography insists on the land as spectacle and involves an element of pleasure.”
Images of exotic places abroad were only in the populations imaginations or captured through drawings in books or perhaps not even known only a few hundred years ago. Yet with the rise of photography, suddenly these images were brought to the masses connecting them to far away places.
The idea of tourism was first created in the Roman days when areas of interest were created and whole villages were built up around them thus creating the first ‘tourist hot spot’ fast foward to the 21st century and the world is a seething mass of tourism. You have to scratch deeper than the surface to find the true place hiding beneath. Once you dust away all of the souveneir snowglobes, teatowels and selfies you find yourself in the true spirit of the place. Yet at the same time in the book ” The Framed World: Tourism, Tourists and Photograph’ I was interested to read that “the carrying of a camera still signifes a tourist…we are almost perpetually primed to click’ This is perhaps true, whenever you go to an event or attraction now everyone is holding a camera or a smart phone, selfie sticks battle against tripods. Sometimes I find myself in the midst of some such scrum and I pause and put my own camera down. In that moment I realise I’m the only person who is truly part of that event, everyone else is a witness because they are only seeing the images through a screen. I feel I’m the only person grounded in the moment. Which is why, since starting this course, I rarely take photos at mass events. I capture a few, the ones that capture my personal respone to the event or location but I focus on enjoying it, capturing images both with my camera and my memory.
It’s something I have never thought about but how far can a photo go to take you inside a location. Is the photographer and therefore the viewer (as the two are perpetually linked) always the outsider? At first I was unsure. The photographer may not be a tourist and is instead immersing themselves in the location yet the viewer is always looking at two dimensional image, they aren’t looking at the Great Pyrmaids of Giza, they are looking at a photo of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Yet that is where photography lets the viewer transcends, they are suddenly there, they are standing at the foot of the Pyramids, though it is just a piece of paper or a computer screen the viewer can feel their feet sinking in the sand, the burning overhead sun and the crowds of people chattering behind them.
See these two images
In one you capture those feelings and emotions of actually being there yet in the other, you are given the truth. This seems to have diverted into a discussion of the picturesque and how sometimes we airbrush out the finer details to create a more aesthetically beautiful image.
In conclusion I feel like you can be both. Sometimes the images taken are from a tourists POV and yes, there is a feeling of being a foreigner in a new land, yet I also feel that a photographer can immerse themselves in the location and at the same time allow the viewer to be immersed too. One cannot work without the other.