7 October 2014
Sat on a sunny sandy Mani beach, this question came to mind, and not for the first time. Earlier this year the location was Venice. Is there a single calle, canal or campo that has not been sketched, painted and photographed too many times already? What is the point of repeating the repeated? A camera was carried but the captured images were almost entirely retinal. On the Messenian coast of Greece the drama is in the mountains and the pleasure in the swimming, the wine and the grilled fish, but the former are too inaccesible and the latter appeal only to non-visual senses. What do other photographers do? Does the portraitist make selfies in front of the sights or the product photographer reproduce every dish in the rustic restaurant? Might the artist photograph pebbles in the sand at sunset and the photojournalist record beach-bar night-life at 3,200 ASA?
It is just that it seems a bit of a shame to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to visit new and exotic places and not bring back a set of great images. There is the guilty feeling of an opportunity wasted. Folk back home ask “did you take lots of photographs?”, and are surprised, shocked even, when the answer is no! But making a set of great images takes time and concentration.
The truth is that going on holiday with friends and family should be a time to do things differently to the way things are done during the rest of the year. That is the point. It is a shame to go all that way and bring back guilt! Everybody else can fill countless SD cards with holiday snaps of St Mark’s Square if they like, but perhaps us photographers should leave our cameras at home.