👀 There's a tourist poking through my lens
#386 | That obscure gem around the corner
I have a very specific problem with tourists.
But before I get into it, I should acknowledge that I spent all of last week with a friend being touristy all over Jaipur—so there’s definitely some hypocrisy in play.
I realised there are different kinds of tourists. Some want to experience a different culture, some want to cover every item on a brochure, some like to wander listlessly and meet new people, some are there by mistake, some want to take it easy, some love history, some love art, and some just want to scribble their names on monuments for no good reason (Why???).
My thing is to take pictures of places I might never get to photograph again. So I take my time, wandering about a fort or a palace, clicking whatever catches my eye.
While I generally enjoy photographing people, tourists pose a particular problem: They almost never fit in.
Imagine taking a picture of a 500-year-old mural with someone’s camera phone poking its way into the frame. Or taking a shot of some pigeons on a window sill only to find the confused head of a man with a straw hat and sunglasses staring right at you. It’s rarely their fault, but tourists are the natural enemies of good photographs.
And I don’t think there’s a good fix. I could get up early and visit these beautiful places when there’s no one about, but lying to myself has never done me much good.
There’s an app I have on my phone but don’t use often enough: the Atlas Obscura Travel Guide. While it can’t magic tourists away, it does show you some of the lesser traversed—but no less beautiful—tourist spots to visit.
It’s a great way to find some quieter sites for photos and is the perfect companion for people who want to see beyond the first page of a Google search. It also has different categories to help you decide on places depending on what you want to do in the city, whether it’s food, art, history, or nature.
That said, I’ve always found the best recommendations come from locals who know a city by heart. So I’d love to hear the best places to visit in your hometown!
Always on the lookout for buried treasure, haunted mansions and a portal to another dimension. Pokémon master, ghostbuster, vampire hunter, romcom side character, first victim in a horror movie and Mean Girls candidate. I don’t make jokes unless I can regret them later. I spend most of my time waiting for dinner.
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