My commute to work is 80% awesome, 20% infuriating. The 80% being the fifteen minute train ride in from Brooklyn wherein I almost always get a seat. The 20% is the part where I walk from the train station through a gauntlet of camera wielding tourists.
Between the station and my office lies the new nexus of New York tourism. The New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church and Ground Zero. Every day it’s literally an uphill battle to weave in, out, about, over and through crowds of both commuters and travelers. Not to mention that since security got all beefed up down here, there are these crazy car barriers shaped into what someone at Homeland Security thinks is corporate art (That’s bureaucratic corporate art) and fencing that cuts a lot of the formerly large foot paths into six foot choke points.
It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, there is ALWAYS someone standing in the middle of this little passageway getting their picture taken in front of the NYSE entrance.
Have you ever seen the entrance to the NYSE?
That’s it. It’s a fucking doorway. Why people feel the need to photograph themselves in front of it simply baffles me. In fact, the whole idea of landmark tourist photography is completely lost on me. You are taking a picture of something that millions of people have already photographed. The only difference is you.
Will the addition of you really make that photograph any better?
Why are you taking your picture there? Will your friends and family not believe you when you said you saw the world’s largest ball of string unless they see photographic evidence?
This applies to any landmark.
Yeah, I’m super stoked you went to Egypt. Wow, a picture of the pyramids? Double wow, A picture of you in front of the pyramids? That’s amazing. Really. I’ve seen pictures of you, I’ve seen pictures of the pyramids. Why would I want to see a combination? Your winning smile?
There is a reason that slide shows are a worldwide euphemism for boredom. Because usually they’re pictures of things everyone’s already seen, only with your ugly mug in front half of them.
Show me a picture of something I’ve never seen before.
Which is exactly the topic of my global initiative for 2008: End tourist trap photography.
The next time you’re off on holiday in France, don’t go stand in front of the Louvre like a douche and say cheese. Instead, find something completely unremarkable nearby, somewhere out of the way, and take a picture of it. So when you show the picture to one of your friends you can say, “Here’s me and my significant other standing next to a lamp post about a hundred yards away from the Louvre. We didn’t have to wait for anyone to go by, we didn’t get in anyone’s way and we are now showing you something that you could not easily see for yourself by typing in ‘the Louvre’ into Google, but we’re still expressing that we visited a famous landmark and got ourselves some culture. Aren’t we awesome?”
Real quick, here’s an artist’s rendition of an example:
That’s me standing next to a trash can, next to the Taj Mahal. Never mind that it’s a New York City trash can. Do mind that coquettish grin and awful haircut though.
I’ve got a few trips lined up in the near future, and I’m absolutely going to start doing this. Ideally I’d like to get a picture exactly a quarter mile away from Buckingham Palace, one of me sitting on the ground next to some litter near the Sydney Opera House and definitely a picture of me facing away from but thinking about the Golden Gate Bridge (not visible).