The photography habits of tourists

20:11, Oct 22 2012

It's been funny watching the different ways tourists take photos. With the accessibility of decent, relatively cheap cameras, everyone seems to be an amateur photographer these days (judging from my Facebook feed at least.)

First there are those who look at the world through the lens of their camera, iPad, smartphone, whatever. They take so many shots, I'm not sure they get a chance to look at their subject with the naked eye.

These people bug me when they wander through art galleries click, click, clicking. I presume all they're after is to prove they've seen a Van Gogh or a Picasso in the flesh. Problem is they haven't, because they don't look at them! Every time I see these types I want to shake them and yell, "just buy the print, and save yourself the time." I've managed to restrain my inner psycho so far, which is lucky, as I became one of the happy snappers on safari.

Next are the posers. They're the ones who think they look like this:

but who actually look like this:


They don't care what the photo looks like, as long as they look good in it. Since the posers are usually perched in front of monuments, it's easy to point your camera and laugh while you pretend to sightsee.   

You're unlikely to find a poser near a genuinely awesome photographer though. What you will see are a few nonchalant folk walking about 10 steps behind, casually holding SLRs that they have no idea how to use.

These people fall into my group - the try-hards. To watch the genuinely awesome photographer take his or her shot is to watch us roll into action. Side of an ugly building? Oh I totes get what you did with that. A piece of iron detailing? Stop it - so artistic.  

Which camp do you fall into and which photos make the best shots?

As a try-hard arty type, photos that display a riot of colour, like a market scene, do all the work for you; lots of closeups of fruit and seafood will also hide your incompetence behind the lens.

I also love the "minimalist" setting on my Canon. It narrows the focus area, brightens up the colours and makes me look as though I know how to rock a camera (I couldn't tell you the difference between aperture and shutter speed.)

Street art shots are another gift for my fellow professional imitators and me. That's because someone else has already done the arty yards for you. All you need do is take the pic and the credit.

But photography pretenders should stay away from monuments and views with no one in them. That's unless you're going to take the shots on your iPhone and Instagram the hell out of them. I love how apps make the worst photos look like the best pieces of art.

Do you find that people are tricky subjects? Strangers look great if you have the balls to shoot them (with a camera). But I've never mastered the etiquette of how to go about it. If you ask first you lose the natural moment, but isn't it rude to snap off pics of randoms without their permission? I've only managed a couple of photos of strangers on my trip - pretending to take a photo of what's behind them works a treat.

What scenes do you think make the best travel snaps? Are you a professional photographer who laughs at try-hards like me? What are your tips for great photos? And which subject makes the best pictures?

For more pictures of all varieties, check out the Roil Around the World Facebook page.