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Author Topic: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist  (Read 3219 times)

dreed

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Logging onto a photography website today, I noticed that an ad for a photography related product featured a photograph that is in an iconic setting. The only problem is that this iconic setting is accessible by car. It also features on postcards. The end result is that whereas a few years ago, it wasn't a very popular destination, now there are signs up everywhere about "no parking" and "private property." An example of this that Kevin has mentioned is in the Palouse, where the residents have put up signs to keep people out and "photography workgroups" put models in fields (without authority to do so.)

In Hallstatt, a garage door has a picture of someone with their finger to their lips and a written request in both English and simplified Chinese to keep quiet. The Chinese mob of tourists ignore the sign and natter amongst themselves. Tellingly, the general store (supermarket) has been updated to be legible in both the German and Chinese.

Why do people go to these places? It looks good, they want to make a good photograph too, like the one they see on the web page. In short, the subject gets photograph'd so much that the trampling of feet kills anything alive and the subject itself no longer becomes as interesting as it once was because it has been "photograph'd to death."

Is this a blessing or a curse?
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Dave Rosser

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Don't blame the Chinese alone it's symptomatic of the ease of getting to places now compared with the past.  Look at this video which I found on the web.  When I went there (sgwd yr eirain) in the late 1950's with my parents and with my uncle as a guide we had the place to ourselves all day, even in the 1970's when I went with my wife it was still relatively quiet but now  :(  :'( .

Rob C

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Don't blame the Chinese alone it's symptomatic of the ease of getting to places now compared with the past.  Look at this video which I found on the web.  When I went there (sgwd yr eirain) in the late 1950's with my parents and with my uncle as a guide we had the place to ourselves all day, even in the 1970's when I went with my wife it was still relatively quiet but now  :(  :'( .


During the 60s, when the kids came along, we used to drive to Aberfoyle and up The Duke's Pass;  the intention was to have a picnic, and picnic we did, but even that long ago we'd elected to wait for rainy days. Try your luck in good weather and you could drive forever and be unable to park. It was quite cosy sitting in the car with music on and the world to ourselves.

Maybe that had a later bearing on my apparent liking for gloomy imagery: there's a good chance I don't quite see as much gloom in it as others may do...

:-)

FabienP

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(...)

Is this a blessing or a curse?

It is a blessing if you have a business which caters to the crowds of tourists and otherwise can only be seen as a curse.

Above a certain threshold, tourism is a form of pollution which should be diluted to safe levels. A few days ago, there was an article in the Guardian which mentioned the least popular UK Ordinance Survey maps, as a hint of places which could benefit from more visitors and alleviate the burden in the more well-known spots. This resulted in an immediate backlash among people who know these remote places and wish to keep enjoying these unspoilt locations.

And let us not forget that not all tourists are equally problematic. Having recently returned from a trip to Japan (as a tourist! ::)), I can confirm that Chinese tourists can be a major disruption to crowd flows in clogged locations. Four people can paralyse an entire train station by staying in the middle of a narrow corridor or a platform where 500 Japanese people could easily pass in perfect harmony. In all cases where I noticed this behaviour, the involved tourists did not seem to notice that they were interfering with normal operations and could not be told to move away since they did not understand Japanese or English. Their lack of self-awareness and regard for others, as well as a missing ability to learn was puzzling to say the least. Westerners can disrupt flows too, typically by keeping to the right side of walkways, even when explicit signs indicate that one should keep to the left, but this is far less problematic and does not result in complete cloggs.

So let's educate tourists so that they behave more responsibly! And hope that an improvement can be seen in our lifetimes! ;D

Cheers,

Fabien
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dreed

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Above a certain threshold, tourism is a form of pollution which should be diluted to safe levels.

Absolutely. The tourist: an environmental terrorist.

Quote
I can confirm that Chinese tourists can be a major disruption to crowd flows in clogged locations. Four people can paralyse an entire train station by staying in the middle of a narrow corridor or a platform where 500 Japanese people could easily pass in perfect harmony. In all cases where I noticed this behaviour, the involved tourists did not seem to notice that they were interfering with normal operations and could not be told to move away since they did not understand Japanese or English. Their lack of self-awareness and regard for others, as well as a missing ability to learn was puzzling to say the least.

Think about their culture: they do as they're told, by the government. If there's nobody to tell them what to do, they seem to be quite unable to do anything when away from home. Your observations here match mine, wherever it is in the world that I've been and observed Chinese tourists.

The comment above about the waterfall is apt. The sharing and spreading of information via the Internet is killing "quiet places" but I don't know that there is any kind of solution.
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KLaban

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Venice has 60,000 permanent residents and over 25 million tourists each year. Anywhere near Piazza San Marco and it's almost impossible to move. A few streets away and it's possible to find peace and quiet.

There's a lesson there.
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Rob C

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Venice has 60,000 permanent residents and over 25 million tourists each year. Anywhere near Piazza San Marco and it's almost impossible to move. A few streets away and it's possible to find peace and quiet.

There's a lesson there.


Of course there is: send everybody to Las Vegas instead, where they find everything in manageable proportions and relatively close to hand.

More seriously, Barcelona and Palma residents are up in arms demonstrating because rentals are so high they can't live in their own home towns anymore. Pollensa has banned rentals for tourism for exactly the same reason, and Puerto Pollensa is now head Madame. It's the rental mirror of the home buying foreigner (comme moi) who has made owning beyond the dreams of many young local people. Same in nice parts of rural Scotland and, apparently, Wales, Cornwall etc.

Of course, if people used hotels, establishments that, here, are pretty good at 3-star upwards, instead of private apartments often bought by foreigners hoping to pay for them through rentals (dream on), life would be far easier for everyone. Hotels pay taxes, insurance for staff, and are obliged to meet prescribed standards. The provision of regular, guaranteed employment in the tourist industry would go a long way to resolving  issues.

The only benefit I can see the locals enjoy from all of this is that some find employment, but the downside is clearly felt in the property market. Don't get me going there: the estate agents are currently a bit more modest, but today's 5 or 6 percent is one helluva whack, especially with VAT on top. You have to advertise, say, for 325,000 if you want to clear around the 300,000 mark. No wonder the market is slow. Ann's bro' made a fortune on 1%.

:-(
« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 01:17:22 PM by Rob C »
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Kevin Raber

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yes, this is a major problem.  we discuss this on my workshops often.    Iceland has gotten so bad I have not done workshops there in 2018 and wondering if I will in the near future.  Places that were untouched and had small parking lots are now paved and expended for buses.  There are even waffle and coffee stands at many of them.  Platforms are being built as many people are trampling down things.  Many tourists ignore rules or just common sense.  I was shooting an iceberg on the beach in Iceland two years ago.  It was a gem and I was working on a long exposure to maximix=ze the intensity of the water around it.  I Chinese tourist and his girlfriend came running up in the middle of my exposure, climbed onto it and proceeded to take a selfie, in the middle of my exposure.  It was very obvious I was shooting it but they must have had blinders on.  I have seen this time and time again in all the places I travel. On one trip I watched a tourist throw something at a sleeping seal so it would wake up and look at him.

I believe social media has played a big part in a lot of the issues we see.  People see photos on Instagram and want to claim the same one for their feed so they get likes.  It's a different time today with so much of the world traveling and I am not sure it's going to change in the near future. 
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Robert Roaldi

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It's tangentially related, but there's an interesting book titled Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen. His critique is largely political, but maybe the "Disneyfication" of everything leads people to think all tourist "destinations" are there only for their amusement. Maybe that's why people take selfies. You can get a picture of an iceberg on the interweb, but not one with ME in it. We'll need to get used to this. Increasingly worldwide affluence means more people can afford to travel. It will almost inevitably follow that to get the "authentic" feeling of solitude you want when shooting certain scenes may one day only be had by paying for the exclusive privilege, the way rich people used to go shoot wild game on safaris.

I don't see any escape from this. It just never occurs to people that they may be in your shot, they don't know what long exposures are, there is simply no widespread awareness of these things.
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Ray

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Having just returned from China, I can sympathise with the problems of over-crowding at popular tourist sites.

One of the very scenic places I visited in China, with my Chinese partner, was the Yellow Mountains in Huangshan. These are magnificent mountains that feature in many ancient Chinese paintings and scrolls.

The very friendly owner of the hotel we were staying at, close to the mountains, recommended that we should avoid going up the mountains on the Sunday because the weekends are rather crowded. So we took a bus ride on the Monday, to the entrance of the cable car, for people who who don't have the time or energy to walk up, although that is an option which I might have taken if I were travelling alone.

What really amazed me was the extent of the queues, on the Monday. If it was that bad on a Monday, what on earth would it have been like on a Saturday or Sunday.  >:(

Following is a shot I took of the queues. However, to be fair to the Chinese, an official did observe our plight and directed us to a shortcut route to escape the crowds, possibly only available for foreign tourists. That saved us a lot of time.

On the way back down, we made the error of assuming that our ticket was a return ticket, because it was quite expensive by Chinese standards, over A$40 per person.
After half an hour of slowly moving down several flights of stairs, crushed within a mass of Chinese tourists, we finally arrived at the entrance to the descending cable cars, only to be told by the ticket inspector that our ticket was not valid. It was a one-way ticket, and we should go back up the stairs to buy another ticket.

We did our best to explain that walking back up several flights of stairs, against a mass of crowds moving in the opposite direction, would be too difficult. The inspector called someone who spoke better English and who understood the problem. So we paid her the money for the tickets and sat down for 10 or 15 minutes whilst she took some other back-route to the ticket office. Problem solved.  :)

The Chinese can be very helpful. Some of the accommodation we stayed at was severely lacking in facilities. One room didn't even have a fridge, yet the proprietors (or proprietresses) were really helpful and friendly, so that more than compensated for any lack of room facilities.
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KLaban

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2018, 10:40:00 AM »

Santorini - the Greek island that's number 5999 on my list of a possible 6000 Hellenic island visits, being as it is the size of a pocket handkerchief and about as interesting - sees roughly 6 million overnight tourist stays a year and yet there are vast and fascinating Greek islands that would struggle to attract more overnight tourist stays than a very average provincial UK hotel.

Perhaps the thread title should have read Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet, the Chinese tourist, photographers and sites such as LuLa as all are a part of the problem rather than a part of any kind of solution to tourist saturation.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 11:22:50 AM by KLaban »
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Rob C

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2018, 01:26:26 PM »

Other than for areas under environmental threat, such as the polar regions, or even where wildlife is as endangered, I wouldn't blame photography too much; after all, the Brownie was no less a danger than the digital miracle; it's not the cameras - it's the feet, the rubbish and often the noise.

Equally, photographers have no divine right to expect the world to stop whilst they make an exposure. For a little while I used to pause and let people make their snaps as I went along my way to the shops or wherever, but now, since digital, I give way not at all: another exposure after I have passed is free. If I wait, it turns into the same routine as holding the door open in a busy shop: you can be left doing it all day long. Why let yourself go there?

KLaban

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2018, 03:30:47 PM »

Other than for areas under environmental threat, such as the polar regions, or even where wildlife is as endangered, I wouldn't blame photography too much; after all, the Brownie was no less a danger than the digital miracle; it's not the cameras - it's the feet, the rubbish and often the noise.

The Brownie images weren't online or on social media.

The world is so much smaller and the people wealthier...
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Rob C

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2018, 05:30:47 PM »

The Brownie images weren't online or on social media.

The world is so much smaller and the people wealthier...


True, but then you need to blame the jet; once upon a lovely time flight was a costly, slower game to play.

The Internet doesn't do anything that travel agents and magazines and tourist boards haven't always done. With or without cameras, folks would seek out something new to see, something that takes them away from the daily grind for a couple of weeks. Ironically, climate change may end up being the saviour for some areas. When the Med turns into soup, more dangerous than the one it already is, then maybe Martin Parr's idyllic places in the UK will suddenly spring back to life... Brexit, if it comes, will make foreign travel more difficult again and obviously a lot more expensive: staycations will become exciting and affordable once more as the business traveller becomes less of a main client. (Britain was ever the most expensive part of our trips from here to there and back.)

Insofar as the Chinese and Americans are concerned, perhaps the wealthier Americans will return to being proper, rich tourists and spend quality time in Paris writing books, sitting in clubs listening to jazz, and on the Riviera chilling out... the Chinese are mostly going to British universities and getting advanced degrees. After enough have them, they may stop coming at all, and the pro-Brexit folks will be able to stop worrying. Life is so exciting in these magical, pre apocalyptic years.

Time to do the dishes and drift off to bed.

:-)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2018, 06:16:00 PM »

... any kind of solution to tourist saturation.

The solution is simple: the end of democracy, return of the elites. The only queue unwashed masses should be seen in is the queue for showers.

Alan Klein

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2018, 12:04:52 AM »

The solution is simple: the end of democracy, return of the elites. The only queue unwashed masses should be seen in is the queue for showers.

I agree.  Why should the riff-raff need a good camera and nice vacation pictures.  They should be in third class like they were on the Titanic, swabbing down the decks for the rest of us.  In any case, if they weren't clamoring for those great shots, how would photography guides stay in business?  They'd have to hang up their boots and sell their Jeeps.   
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/bYpsf5cbQAE/hqdefault.jpg

Rob C

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2018, 04:06:04 AM »

I agree.  Why should the riff-raff need a good camera and nice vacation pictures.  They should be in third class like they were on the Titanic, swabbing down the decks for the rest of us.  In any case, if they weren't clamoring for those great shots, how would photography guides stay in business?  They'd have to hang up their boots and sell their Jeeps.   
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/bYpsf5cbQAE/hqdefault.jpg

Alan, what makes you think the "riff-raff" wants a good camera, gives a shit about photography at all? Do you see the bums on the street shooting street, shooting anything at all unless one another with bullets or themselves with dope of some kind?

Photography has always been a bit of an exclusive-to-the-better-off kinda deal. You think that just anyone can - on whim or otherwise - simply walk into a remaining shop, walking out a while later with a bought fifteen hundred bucks/pounds camera? You forget that roughly half the population that votes left does so to avoid starvation and to get medical aid (it has no way of buying) when needed.

I have sailed on several passenger ships in my youth, doing the 23 +- days U.K. - India run (POSH?), and the lower classes swabbed down nothing, and they had a better social time than did I in first class. Kids being kids, I was able to go to their section of ship and enjoy the conviviality, the music. The stateroom quality of life is better in many ways, but also a bit cold, sterile and constantly on guard. As many have later found, slumming on a credit card can be fun for a while.

Insofar as photography guides staying in business: I care as much for them as do the pennystock amateurs for the plight of the families of all the pro-stock shooters they put out of work for nothing better than ego and a couple of bucks a year or once in a lifetime.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 07:47:05 AM by Rob C »
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Rob C

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2018, 04:10:49 AM »

The solution is simple: the end of democracy, return of the elites. The only queue unwashed masses should be seen in is the queue for showers.

How would that represent a change?

Rob

Ivophoto

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Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2018, 04:40:25 AM »

I agree.  Why should the riff-raff need a good camera and nice vacation pictures.  They should be in third class like they were on the Titanic, swabbing down the decks for the rest of us.  In any case, if they weren't clamoring for those great shots, how would photography guides stay in business?  They'd have to hang up their boots and sell their Jeeps.   
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/bYpsf5cbQAE/hqdefault.jpg

Yes, only, maybe you end up in that 3th Class. 🤭 but this is about the forbidden P word.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 04:44:07 AM by Ivophoto »
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Ivophoto

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Re: Photographed to death, brought to you by the Internet and the Chinese tourist
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2018, 04:41:48 AM »

The solution is simple: the end of democracy, return of the elites. The only queue unwashed masses should be seen in is the queue for showers.

Sounds like my bathroom few years ago when I had to deal with a wife and an adult daughter.

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