Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more – more unseen forms become manifest to him. – Rumi
I am a naturally curious person, interested in cultures, places, memory and identity. Put a camera in my hand and I will try and unravel some of these mysteries. My latest inquiry revolves around how do tourists view the landscape? According to John Taylor in A Dream of England Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination, whose writings are my inspiration for this project, there is a hierarchical structure of the tourist gazes. The uppermost gaze, that of the traveller, is contemplative and deep searching. The traveller visits places off the regular tourist map. The tourist’s gaze is one where he/she is simply confirming what has already been learnt about in the tourist guide books. It is a shallow gaze, but some attention is paid to the surroundings. The day tripper’s gaze is swift and scant. Things are seen in a blur – the day tripper sees everything but doesn’t really absorb anything.
Photographically, how do these three different gazes translate into images? The challenge was to find a way to mimic these gazes. Having recently moved to Blind Bay, I chose to make this project in my new surroundings and in the closest town, Salmon Arm and played tourist in my own backyard. For the traveller’s gaze I chose to use a photographic technique that requires longevity to the gaze, i.e. panoramas. I decided to treat the tourist’s gaze as the conventional record shot – something that equates to “been there, done that, tick it off the bucket list”. The day tripper’s gaze proved also to be quite challenging. How to depict this gaze without taking a rubbish photo – but then perhaps that is what happens when the day trippers shoot by and blink at their surroundings. I made use of blur, tilt and flash to convey this attitude of hurriedness.
These varied ways of looking and points of view give us clues to the identity of the tourist and as stated in the quote by Rumi above how much their hearts have been polished. But can we truly belong just to one category, or are we an amalgam of them all? Either way, the art of looking is a learned ability.
I have put together a video as well as a flipbook for this assignment. I think I’m leaning towards presenting the video at assessment, but am not entirely sure. I am also not sure if I should cut any of the sets. I currently have six sets. This is something where I need some guidance from my tutor.
My main inspiration for this project came from John Taylor’s book, A Dream of England Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination.
When I had completed the assignment and was pulling it together, I started looking at other photographers’ work for contextualization. Upon examining Susan Trangmar’s Untitled Landscapes 1985, I realised that two of my images were also, in fact, subverting the viewer’s gaze, while I was trying to depict the day tripper’s gaze. Of the photographers that I researched, I felt the work of Simon Robert’s Sight Sacralization: (Re)framing Switzerland resonated with my project the best. As detailed in the Google Hangout 1 November, 2018 posting, there were two ways in which I could have approached my project – one featuring how people perform the various tourist gazes, and I have a few examples on that posting, and the second replicating the views the tourists would have seen. Because of the lack of tourists in this area I elected to go with the second option. While Roberts takes a pull-back view of the happy-snappy tourists, his work lends itself more to the contemplative gaze, but at the same time incorporating the day tripper’s gaze, which I found very complex and intriguing.
While my images can probably stand alone, they are definitely stronger when viewed in their sets when the difference of the views becomes apparent.
Originally I had put down Tim Simmons and Terri Loewenthal as photographers to research for this project. But because I decided not to use long exposure and multiple exposure and light techniques I have not done any research on them.
To explore and replicate the three types of the tourist gazes. The adventurer/traveller looks at his/her surroundings with a contemplative gaze, examining the details in depth. The regular tourist glances briefly at his surroundings, accumulating only the essentials he/she came to look at. The day-tripper rushes through his/her surroundings trying to cram in as much as possible, but absorbing very little. Everything he/she sees blurs into one.
Influences and research
- Taylor, J. (1994) A Dream of England | Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination. Manchester University Press: Mancehster and New York.
- Martin Parr
- Susan Trangmar
- Keith Arnatt
- John Davies
- Paul Reas
- Tim Simmons (http://www.timsimmons.co.uk/)
- Terri Loewenthal (http://www.terriloewenthal.com/)
- Multiple exposure in camera
- Long exposure.
Sets of triptychs, fold outs or A3 prints
Purchase set of ND filters
Finish by 31 December
Arrange printing format – either in-house or outsource (depends on final format)
Location scouting and shooting
Purchase of any equipment needed
Demonstration of technical and visual skills: Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
Although I had purchased ND filters (which took forever to arrive and threw my schedule off) I did not end up using them. I had initially thought that I could create the contemplative gazes in a variety of methods e.g. multiple exposure, long exposure, Pep Ventosa techniques, but decided to use panoramas for this particular gaze for a couple of reasons. One – my panoramas were almost all taken over 180 degrees and some of them have as many as 20 – 22 photographs that make up the one image. So I was actually spending a long time contemplating while I was photographing and I felt this was a better fit with the brief I had set myself. Two – it would take the viewer a longer time to view than a multiple or long exposure print – again fitting the brief. This was the first time I had actually made panoramas and I found it quite challenging, but I think I fared pretty well. It was also extremely cold when I was shooting, the average temperature being -15C or so on most of the days and standing around shooting panoramas with your feet buried in the snow and an icy wind in your face soon takes its toll. That being said for the most part the light was stunning.
My day tripper images were also more challenging than I had expected them to be. One is so conditioned to make a good photograph that it is really quite difficult to intentionally make a rubbish one. I eventually gave up on trying to make a bad image and tried rather to concentrate on achieving some blur in my images, using flash to over brighten parts of the image and including the inevitable selfie.
Another thing I found quite challenging was the fact that I was shooting in an off-peak season. During the summer Blind Bay and Salmon Arm are swarming with tourists, but come the end of October, they disappear. So I really didn’t have any points of reference to see what the tourists would look at during the winter.
Quality of Outcome: Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment. Conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
I presented my WIPs during various Google Hangouts (Landscape Google Hangout, 1 November, 2018 and Google Hangouts) and luckily this time everyone understood my brief (and no one complained about the abundance of snow in the images). During one of the hangouts a fellow student conveyed to me that she had recently been on a tour to New Zealand and she felt my day tripper images were spot on as she said these tour buses literally allow you only a few minutes to take photos. So I was extremely pleased that that idea was coming through.
I have presented two options of presenting my work: a timed slideshow which is set up to mimic the gazes and a flipbook which I have purposely left untimed so my tutor can spend more time looking at the images.
Demonstration of Creativity: Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
My tutor had mentioned, when I suggested the idea of the different tourist gazes to him that he had not seen much photographic work depicting this subject. Much has been written about it, though. So I feel that I have been imaginative and experimented with this assignment. It has definitely been outside my comfort zone.
My initial plans can be seen on the Google Hangout 1 November, 2018 posting and subsequent feedback from the International Hangout (27 January, 2019) and the Landscape Hangout (21 February, 2019).
Context: Reflection, research (evidenced in learning logs). Critical thinking (evidenced in critical review).
I have already mentioned above that my main inspiration for this project was from John Taylor’s book, A Dream of England Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination.
Write ups on the other photographers that I researched for this assignment can be accessed via the links below:
- Simon Roberts: Sight Sacralization: (Re)framing Switzerland
- Keith Arnatt
- John Davies
- Martin Parr
- Paul Reas
I have also been catching up on my to-do list which thankfully is almost complete now. Just one or two more things to do which will be done before the completion of Assignment 6.
Gillespie, Alex (2006) Tourist photography and the reverse gaze. Ethos, 34 (3). pp. 343-366. ISSN 0091-2131
Larson, Jonas (n.d.) The Aspirational Tourist Photographer [online] Either/And. Available at: http://eitherand.org/reconsidering-amateur-photography/aspirational-tourist-photographer/ (Accessed 28 February, 2019)
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 (pp. 243-261). Gøteborg: NORDICOM
Taylor, John (1994) A Dream of England – Landscape, photography and the tourist’s imagination. Manchester: Manchester University Press