Has photography (and technology) tainted travel?


Highly recommend this article!!

“Has Photography Ruined Travel?” by James Durston for CNN GO. 

An interesting idea to consider….don’t get me wrong. I’m about as picture-happy as an American tourist in Spain (which, incidentally, I happen to be) and I am not about to toss my camera out the window purely for “appreciative purposes.” I have seen so many things already in my year here that I couldn’t imagine trying to remember it all without pictures.


Seriously, stop and think about the last time you saw or experienced something breathtaking/incredibly strange/unbelievable/etc etc. Did you truly drink in the moment and savor the whole experience, without the aid of your handy image-capturing device? If you answer yes to that question, I want to take zen lessons from you. If, like most of us, you instead scrambled for your camera, took 5 minutes turning it on, adjusting the flash and focus and then took another 5 minutes getting every angle possible (artistic shot, full-scale shot, a shot with you in front of said photograph-worthy object, a jumping in the air-pic, etc)…is that memory going to be better preserved or somewhat tainted by your photography frenzy? Do cameras capture memories or just images, and actually hinder “memory-making”? I don’t know the answer. Perhaps, a happy medium…for a monument/building/large chicken statue/etc that isn’t going anywhere in the next few minutes, maybe take a few minutes and really see the thing; enjoy it, sans camera, for a little bit and THEN take your picture (ok, maybe pictures, but I do think we get a little excessive with photo quantity at times).

In terms of the smartphone/GPS/other thing-finding-device argument, I wholeheartedly agree. As a supporter (purely because I actually do not possess one at this time) of the anti-technology side, I truly believe it is so much better to wander an unknown city (of course, bring a map, I’m not advocating complete stupidity/naivete here) by way of chance and/or actually asking real, living humans rather than having everything laid out and dictated to you by some voice in a phone. After all, from where do all the best stories come but by roaming a bit off the beaten path sometimes?

Just some random musings. We’ll see how well this works with me next time I’m somewhere photo-worthy or am lost. But what do YOU think? Technology and travel…always a match made in heaven or a maybe-they-should-see-other-people sort of pair?


About briannehake

Language & culture assistant in Spain. Recent UNL Advertising & public relations grad. Thrilled about future possibilities. Addicted to traveling. Fascinated by CSR and sustainable development. Dreams someday of helping businesses and nonprofit organizations collaborate for better communities and a better world. And dancing. Lots of dancing.

2 responses »

  1. I have actually asked myself that same question. Last year when Jory and I were in Belize on a kayak outing one morning a large group of dolphins started surfacing only a few feet from our boat and now I look back and feel sad that one of my first thoughts was ‘where is the camera?’ We had actually left it back on shore and so we watched the amazing event fold before us without anything to capture the moment. But still I know it is one I’ll never forget…

    I think it is a bit of a reflection of our society. I read an article recently that was quotes by adolescent girls discussing social media and sites like facebook. One quote I remember quite clear was a young girl saying ‘If you don’t take pictures and post them on facebook [of a party] you might of well have not been there,’ because to her it is not your experience that matters it is others’ projection and opinion of your experience (so sad!).

    That view is definitely a little bit extreme. I do personally believe that photos can help enhance our memories of certain events, I deeply cherish all of our photos taken in Belize. But I think there is a very fine line of enjoying the event and ruining the event by your camera fumbling. Sorry for the rant, I just like pondering questions like that. 🙂

  2. As one whose family is spread among many states, I feel that the camera plays a strategic role in keeping families together by sharing events in the lives of those who live too far away to visit often. Exchanging pictures truly maintains relationships. Also, since I’m the one who doesn’t travel much, I love to vicariously “see” other places through the eyes of those who are kind enough to share their pictures. When the one who is the explorer takes the time to put in captions or write descriptions, I am thrilled. Since both my children have taken journeys to Europe, the pictorial results combined with technology to share them have my strongest support. However, I do know that in some cases, some tourists are too over-eager to snap pictures that they push around their fellow travelers and block the view holding up their cameras! Running around to get as many pictures as possible would not be as good as taking the time to soak up the culture, architecture, and visual impact. I greatly appreciate those who share their pictures and their journeys with the rest of us !!

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