Czech Out the Tourists

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Prague is (rightfully) one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, with 4.1 million annual visitors.

Normally, my entire goal is to avoid other tourists: they congest the sights, they get in the way of my pictures, they distract from the local flavor, and seeing them move in mindless herds occasionally offends my snooty “that’s not what travel’s about!” sensibilities.

On the other hand, by putting so much effort into not recognizing their existence, am I not also denying the reality of what is really taking place where I visit? If I wait until just the right moment to capture a monument without a single tourist blotting my pristine photograph, when actually 99% of the time there are hordes of them set loose in front of it, aren’t I distorting reality to fit my preconceived idea of what the place should look like?

Perhaps. So in Prague I decided to indulge in an idea I’ve had for quite a while now: instead of taking shots of the sights, I’d chronicle the tourists wandering around the sights. To photograph them up close and personal in their natural state, unaware that they are the subject. Bwahahaha. This made for an interesting challenge, and quite a fun day of what I’ll call counter-tourism photography…

Comments (4)

ronNovember 8th, 2009 at 11:14 am

Definitely one of my favorite sequences. So many outstanding photos and situations you captured – so many different but typical people intent on looking up, like a Norman Rockwell study (#96), the two people with their arms defiantly crossed that have to walk around you (#1352) because you are standing right in front of them, a rare moment of uncertainty about what to look at next (#726), the gentleman worried about the time as he checks his watch (#300), the tall lady taking back her camera from the helpful couple of diminutive stature…must have been a fun day for you of discreet “in-your-face” photo-capture of that marvelous species on the planet called the tourist!

GraemeNovember 10th, 2009 at 12:25 am

LOL, Gabriel this is sooo awesome. Rachelle and I sat a restaurant (probably the one in 0709) in front of that dumb clock thing, and just enjoyed watching the crowds gather every hour to watch it. I never did get what was so great about it, but the crowd watching was pretty amusing.

On another note, I was lucky enough to pass through Prague last December (work trip)…if you get a chance, the snow and Christmas lights and spirit make Prague a pretty magical place.

KerryNovember 10th, 2009 at 8:10 am

So what exactly were those people looking at? That castle looking building?

Gabriel OpenshawNovember 10th, 2009 at 9:06 am

Hehe, yes, the crowds gathered to watch the clock animation at the top of the hour. Turns out watching the crowds was far more entertaining!

Leave a comment

Your comment