Tourist’s rituals

I have to admit I don’t remember too well how travelers acted at tourist attractions before digital photography and mainly before mobile photography. Probably they took pictures, but it was different back then. Everybody didn’t have a camera, and those who had couldn’t just aimlessly shoot all they saw. Film had such a definite storing capacity compared to any digital camera, there was 24 or 36 exposures on every roll and an average tourist used maybe a roll or two during his or her vacation. Dedicated enthusiast had perhaps 10 – 20 rolls of film in their camera bag, and even that is not much by today’s standards, if we talk about number of photos people take.

Havelock, New Zealand 2018.

Today it’s almost comical to see how people perform a ritual when they arrive at a tourist attraction. They lift both of their arms in the air, hold their hands in front of their faces and stare at the same direction. There is, of course, a phone between their hands. It’s such a pronounced gesture that it really looks much more like worshipping than photographing, especially if a group of people is synchronously doing it. The traditional way of holding a camera on the eye is somehow more subtle as a gesture and it clearly defines what is going on. When you lift your arms in the air it can mean many things, but of course, it’s the only way to use a phone camera.

Anyhow, it’s intriguing to watch people at tourist spots. I often find it much more enjoyable than the attraction itself. Here are some of my observations from the past couple of months.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2017.
Siem Reap, Cambodia 2017.
Rarangi Beach, New Zealand 2018.
Paparoa National Park, New Zealand 2018.

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