Posted in 13 The tourist perspective, Coursework

Exercise 3.2 Postcard views – Part Two

  1. 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

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Day-Trip-to-Giza-Pyramids-and-the-Egyptian-Museum-from-Port-Said-Port.jpg

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.

SOURCES

http://www.academia.edu/353007/The_Origin_and_Meaning_of_Tourism_Etymological_Study

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/the-framed-world-tourism-tourists-and-photography/409139.article

 

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Posted in 13 The tourist perspective, Coursework

Exercise 3.2 Postcard Views

  1. Gather a selection of postcards that you’ve bought or recived. Write a brief evaluation of the merits of the images you find. Consider whether as Fay Godwin remarked, these images bear any relation to your experience of the places depicted.

Postcards have always been something wonderful to me, a little snippet of a memory, posted back home waiting for you, connecting you to all sorts of incredible places around the world or even on your own doorstep, whether you’ve visited them or not. There’s that enjoyment of sitting on holiday scribbling away, like a personal diary, one arriving from a friend showing they’re thinking of you or collecting them to remind you of special memories. Therefore I was rather upset to see the comments of a fellow past student who I will not name and their disregard of postcards. They wrote how they thought postcards were a way of bragging, a pointless memento that people had to wait for and why in this digital age would we care for something made of paper, so insignificant. It was then I realised what postcards meant to me that I could even feel angry, I know everyone is welcome to their own opinion (not that we always want to hear it) but to diss something so wonderful and timeless. They don’t see it, yes social media connects us all instantly but that’s what it is, instant gratification, the moment is gone, the photo is shared and I admit I post images of my trips away or places I’ve visited but I also send postcards to those who matter. Taking the time when you could just send a text shows you care. Just as creating a postcard of something says ‘this is special’ course book so too, taking the time out to write a postcard shows ‘you are special and we care’

I also do not share any of the thoughts of Fay Goodwin “I get satiated with looking at postcards. they are a very soft warm blanket of sentiment,” in fact her opinions infuriated me, I understand that the picturesque has perhaps an over saturated feel which has been intensified by tourism and the media yet if we reset all those thoughts and comments and for one moment made every human and man made element invisible we would see that the picturesque was not an illusion, it’s very much true, because the world and the countryside is beautiful and we happen to come across such scenes and beauty and feel that emotion of awe and love. Yet a critic comes along and says it’s a lie, an illusion yet they clearly do not see the beauty of the world because if they truly opened their eyes they would see just how beautiful the world is. Nor do I think Constable was painting a false picture, if you forive the pun, of the Haywain. Just because there is crime and unrest in the world doesn’t mean that we must only see images of that. Yes we know there is war and terrible things going on but at the same time every image of a landscape or painting of an area is not critised for lying. The images don’t need to be focused on that. For every painting in existence there is something bad going on in the background.

I do feel rather strongly about this and I’m not usually so outspoken on her but it wouldn’t be true to myself of I praised and accepted these thoughts I don’t share in.

Anyway, I will continue with the exercise.

Recently while re organising my room I came across a big file filled with postcards. My Dad was pleasantly surprised that it had been found among all the photo albums as it contained all the postcards he had collected, received and sent in return to family members. It was the equivalent of a travel book with pages filled with exotic and local destinations. He said he began the collection to preserve memories when digital cameras were still in their infancy. Some were places I had visited myself, others only my parents had set foot there and some were from friends abroad. What I find especially intersting was that a great deal of the postcards had been written and I saw how we all leave behind our own echoes in places which can be reseen in the mind. My memory of a church would be the blossom that blooms around it every year yet to the postcard owner, that day it rained, they attended a wedding and got a cup of tea on the pier.  I am going to centre Assignment Three around echoes of memories and the places we leave ourselves behind in perhaps incorporating images of my childhood in them.

Below are a selection of the postcards with my thoughts of each one.

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This both matches my experience of the place and the images promoted across the media. The reason being, this is what the Lake District geographically looks like.
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A very stereotypical image with the bagpipes, I can’t say I saw any reindeer in Scotland but the landscapes are synonymous with my experience of Scotland.
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This was sent to my Dad from a friend who visits Disney Land every year. Whilst I have never visited this is the image that is always conjured when Disney Land is mentioned.
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My memory of Dunkeld is running through the wood and meeting a drunk woman, also a relative lived up here but as I was young these are just beautiful images to me.
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I find this postcard amusing with all the cherry blossom as it presents Llandudno as a place akin to the Cherry blossom festival.
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I’m not quite sure where cats come into Llandudno but this postcard was sent to my cat loving Grandparents.
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A place I know well but I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed it in the shape of a teapot, or where the teapot comes into this.
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Here is one image that is a mirror image of my perception and indeed the photos I’ve taken. The Swallow Falls spread out in a deafening beauty and to Google the images all of the images are similar if not identical.
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I’m struck by this as I can’t actually remember what Alderley Edge looks like yet I feel an urge to visit there and the images capture that ethereal feel as felt in the book ‘The Wizard of Alderley Edge’ So whilst I can’t remember the place I have literary generated memories.
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This image is different to what I saw as we passed by in a steamed up car with the rain lashing down and Mallum cove lost in the mist. In fact we had already stopped a mile back and taken photos in front of what we presumed was the cove which was in fact just a small granite mound. To be honest we had stopped at several’ coves’ before we discovered the true one which we whisked by in the car.

I was very inspired by Francis’s Firth huge project to photography every town, city and village in Great Britain, such an immense project to undertake and one that has served an understanding of the past.

I was especially eager to see whether my own town, Lytham St Annes qualified in the set. Why is there something so exciting about seeing your own town depicted in a project when you can just easily look out of the window and see it in stunning technicolour. I suppose it’s behind the artist’s vision, we all like to see how a place is interpreted to another and especially if that place bears some emotional symbolism to the viewer.