Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Geographies–Jonas Larsen

In brief Larsen appears to be arguing that the traditional stance that tourism photography is largely about rephotographing existing images is incorrect. He suggests thata more current reading is that tourist photography is a performative act – with elements of family bonding – that reshapes the destination in the mind of the photographer and their acquaintances.
I find it difficult to argue with the general thrust of this. It seems self evident that the majority of tourist photography in the time since the advent of cheap package holidays has little to do with the cultural tourism of the relatively affluent of previous times. However I do feel his assertion suffers a little from a common malaise – it is overly general.
While it may well be true that a significant proportion of tourist photography is as described – the image below is an obvious case in point – it is not always the case.
Us with the Skydeck
People turn tourist for many reasons – for some it is almost certainly true that they wish to see “in the flesh” those things that have fascinated them as images – for others it may simply be a desire to guarantee some warm weather during their all to short summer break, a need to travel on a business trip, a friends wedding. In some cases they will have little expectation of the places they visit or the photos will be hurried shots in between important meetings.
So Larsen’s conclusions seem a little premature – undoubtedly he is right in many cases, but there will still be cases where the old desires prevail, and places and visits which are photographed in non-performative ways for any number of reasons.
Larsen, J 2006, 'Geographies of Tourism Photography: Choreographies and Performances'. in J Falkheimer & A Jansson (eds), Geographies of Communication: The Spatial Turn in Media Studies. NORDICOM, Gøteborg, pp. 243-261.

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