The Politics of Vacation Photography


Photograph by Erin Smith

If you read this blog often, you may remember that I am the one that is writing to you from the Australian road. It may surprise you to know, though, that while I'm wandering around this beautiful continent, I'm constantly trying to think of a good blog to write for you. I feel as though travel photography blogs usually center around the same things, and let me tell you- it's not easy coming up with something unique! (So if you've any ideas for me, feel free to drop a comment!)

It did hit me though... Not literally, but you get the point. I was strolling through a gallery one day, getting distracted and annoyed by many of the other patrons- travelers and locals alike. The offenders had one thing in common- can you guess?

No, they weren't being loud.

And no, it wasn't the kids.

Strangely enough- it was the cameras.

Why is it that so many people feel the need to document every little thing that they see on vacation? Do you really need to remember every artifact you saw at the museum of randomville? Do you really have to make your friends suffer through every painting you thought was cool at the art gallery?

Think about it, not only are you wasting computer space on images you probably wont even look at again, but you're getting in everyones way! While you're standing super close to the display, trying to get a decent photo with flash that should probably be turned off in the first place.... You are blocking anyone else from getting a look at the piece! It's one thing to linger in front of a piece because you are enjoying it, and need more time to basque in it's glory! It's quite another to barely notice the hard work that went into it, while you break copyright laws.

That is by far what bugs me the most. I think any photographer and artist would agree. Yes, in some sections of certain museums and galleries, you are allowed to take out your camera. That doesn't mean everything in the building is up for grabs! There are "no camera" signs for a reason. Yet, I've literally seen people using their children as props in order to get an illegal photo of a piece of art. How about next time you like something that much, you try writing down the artists name and giving some money towards the creation of more- because, if it was you, what would you want?