I got this promo from Pinterest today. Photos like these are ruining travel photography and Pinterest is to blame — or maybe the readers of Pinterest are to blame.
Notice the young lady mugging for the camera in the promo for Barcelona? She is sitting on a bench in Park Güell in Barcelona. I suspect there are fifty other tourists around her trying to get the exact same shot with their cell phones.
I suspect there is a tourist on her right that is trying desperately to get the same photo. Some tourists bring shopping bags or small suitcase so they can change clothes in each photo. Selfie sticks cross and get in the way as people jostle for the same spot.
Ten years ago, photographers would have been lined up at this same location in Park Güell. They wanted a photo of the undulating benches made by Gaudi with the park below and Barcelona on the distance. The photographers would have stood at a distance so all the elements were in the frame. Traveling companions would have wandered around the huge square looking at the scene and exploring.
Today, everyone is a photographer and everyone has a camera. Today, everyone with a cell phone has to sit or stand in “the spot” to get a selfie. Then they get up, let their friend sit down and take a selfie, then both pose for a selfie, then they change clothes, sit down again to pose, then change pose . . . you get the picture.
In October I led a photo tour to Spain. We visited Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and Barcelona. The photo opportunities were amazing and we had so much fun.
I never got a photo of the lovely undulating benches at Park Güell because the benches were lined with tourists taking selfies. People were not photographing the benches made by Gaudi in the 1900s. People were photographing themselves sitting on the benches made by Gaudi.
Scroll up and look at the Pinterest photo of the lady standing on the Parasol in Seville. Such an amazing public art installation in the heart of Seville. Thanks to photos like the one you see above, the place where that lady stands is now “the spot.” Tourists will line-up to stand in that exact location, mug for the camera, smile, duck-lips, peace signs with the hands, change clothes, stand with their friends, etc.
I’ve seen these same thing happen all over the world. At Machu Picchu it is nearly impossible to get the iconic photo of the ruins because people are lined up taking selfies with the ruins in the background. A group of 10-15 friends arrive and then stand in the same location for a half hour while each is photographed individually, then in small groups, then in larger groups, then with another camera.
At Angkor Watt in Cambodia people stand around the lovely courtyards to take selfies. Then they change clothes, rearrange the group, change cameras, etc. The more people move into the courtyards and repeat the process for the next 15 or 20 minutes. They are not viewing the magnificent ancient architecture — they are photographing themselves in the ancient structure.
The views of lovely blue domed churches in Santorini have been blocked by the hordes of tourists. People perch on white walls and angle to get their selfie with the blue domes in the background. Then they hand their camera to their friend and the friend tries to get “the shot.” Twenty minutes later that group moves and another gets into position.
Photography changes and it has changed now that everyone has a camera. I do miss the days, though, when people were more interested in the location than themselves in the location.