Anthropology and Photography 2014 (1)

British Museum, Clore Centre, 29-31 May 2014


Tourism and Photography

Location Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Date and Start Time 30 May, 2014 at 09:30


Hazel Andrews (LJMU)  email
Catherine Palmer (University of Brighton)  email
 Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel explores the relationship between tourism and photography. It seeks to focus specifically on anthropological approaches to photography in tourism.

Long Abstract

The relationship between tourism, tourists and photography is well established and has received much critical attention in the broader tourism studies literature. This panels seeks to focus specifically on anthropological approaches to photography in tourism and invites abstracts that extend understandings of visual anthropology and material culture through touristic practices. To this end abstracts which address the following, although not restricted to these themes are sought:

1. The role of photography as ethnographic method in tourism.

2. The circulation of tourism photographs as part of a visual economy.

3. Tourism photography as narrative.

4. Tourism photography as a way of knowing and ordering.

5. The material culture of tourism photography e.g.: actual photos, camera equipment, photo albums.

6. Photographing tourists and tourism.

7. Tourism photography as embodied practice and the role of the senses/emotions.

8. The role of social media in tourism photography.

9. Tourism photography and memory.

10. The relationship between tourism photography and the natural world.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Observing tourism: Photography as fieldwork

Author: Kevin Meethan (Plymouth University) email

Short Abstract

This paper will examine the use of photography as a form of ethnographic fieldwork specifically in relation to tourism spaces.

Long Abstract

Tourism relies on the physical and conceptual creation and demarcation of spaces of leisure. In part this distinctiveness is create the use of visual clues and tropes which include not only the layout and functions of buildings and public/private spaces, but also the design and deployment of commercial signage and advertising. The creation of such spaces is more than just a matter of spatial appearances, as it also involves the active embodiment and performance of people as tourists. Capturing this dynamic interplay can be difficult, and the strong visual element inherent in tourist spaces makes them an ideal subject for the use of photography as a primary source of data, as photos have a unique ability to capture time and space in a way that other forms of data gathering, such as fieldnotes, do not. The immediacy of the recorded image however can mask a process that is selective not only in terms of the subject matter, but also governed by aesthetic codes and visual tropes, which also contribute to the development and maintenance of the tourism imaginary.

Rooted in the documentary tradition of photography, this paper will examine some of the practical, ethical and theoretical issues that arise from using photography as a primary method of data collection in fieldwork, specifically in relation to the visual ethnography of tourism.

Pilgrims and passers-by, a photographer's perspective: anthropological approaches in fine art and documentary photography practice

Author: Alys Tomlinson (SOAS) email

Short Abstract

This paper will examine how anthropology and ethnographic research methods can enrich the work of photographers, with particular reference to the representation of tourists and holidaymakers in contemporary photography.

Long Abstract

Photography has often served to support the written word in anthropological fieldwork, but increasingly contemporary photographers and artists are realizing how valuable anthropological study and methodology can be in enriching their photographic projects. Using two of my recent photographic projects as examples; 'Following Broadway,' where I walked thirteen miles of Broadway, New York, photographing strangers I encountered, and my latest project 'Lourdes', where through landscapes and portraiture, I explore the role of tourism, pilgrimage and faith, I will show how my work interweaves visual narrative with ethnographic research methods.

Lourdes attracts over six million visitors every year and popular pilgrimage sites have been seen to encourage a form of 'religious tourism' or 'faith tourism'. What do photographs of pilgrims (or 'religious tourists') reveal to us from an anthropological perspective? In addition to my own work, I will look at the contemporary representation of tourists in photography, with particular reference to Martin Parr's 'Small World', Tony Ray-Jones's series of images taken at English seaside resorts in the 1960s and Chloe Dewe-Matthews' project 'Hasidic Holiday'. I will explore the role of the 'photographer as anthropologist' and examine how these photographers blend theory with ethnographic research, and by so doing enrich the work for both the maker and viewer.

Finally, I will address issues of liminality, space and reflexivity in photography, as well as the ethical considerations when researching and pursuing personal, long-term photographic projects.

PDF Download PDF of paper

Meet the 'entangled' fieldworker: Distorted representations in tourism research

Author: Martin Trandberg Jensen (Aalborg University) email

Short Abstract

This paper seeks to inject a note of reflexive phenomenological wonder into the practical engagements with visualities in tourism research. Doing so it unravels the overwhelming moments of ethnographic research to contribute to epistemological discussions in tourism research.

Long Abstract

Ethnographic methods appear increasingly popular within a tourism research environment continuously informed by the 'critical turn' in tourism studies. Heeding the call for a new research agenda, partly aimed at rethinking ontological, epistemological and methodological conventions, it seems, however, that surprisingly few have drawn on radical reflexivity to inject a modest phenomenology of the too often neglected, overwhelming and less intentional moments of engagements with visual methods. Drawing upon non- representational theories and current trends in tourism research dealing with sensory ethnography and reflexivity this paper seeks to convey some of the disorders also constituting tourism ethnographies and the production of knowledge. Subsequently, this paper proposes the notion of distorted representations in seeking to illustrate examples of fieldwork entanglements. Doing so the article plugs into epistemological debates in tourism, and sheds light upon an alternative mode of rendering visible the production of knowledge, which, to a certain extent, stands in stark contrast to the 'polished' and published representations in journal articles.

The Sharers Care More

Author: Aivar Ruukel (Estonian University of Life Sciences) email

Short Abstract

Taking photos is one of the main activities on a holiday, influencing the way a holiday is done. Travel photos are meant to be shared, in the digital age sharing photos has changed drastically with social media. Social media photo sharers may be more sustainable tourists than non-sharers.

Long Abstract

Photography and modern tourism emerged at around the same time (Urry, 1990), with both now recognized as being part of the everyday life of ordinary people (Garlick, 2002). The social action of taking photos is one of the main activities on a holiday, influencing the way a holiday is done.

Travel photos are meant to be shared and to be seen. Traditionally photo sharing was a private endeavor (Walker, 1989), in the digital age sharing photos has changed drastically with social media. Recent study reveals that some 89% of holidaymakers take photographs and that 41% of them posted their photographs online (Lo, 2011).

Tourism industry is undergoing a change with respect to its relationship with the environment. Majority of tourists is ambivalent or not interested in environmental issues (Fairweather, 2005). Limited understanding of the dynamics between different determinants of tourists responsible behavior is a challenge that hinders sustainable progress.

Social media photo sharers may be more sustainable tourists than non-sharers (Boley, 2013). Boley discovered that those who posted travel pictures to social media are more interested in buying local souvenirs and support local economies than those who did not posted. Users of online media are more interested in engaging the destination at a deeper level, discover and improve one's knowledge (Lo, 2011).

Current study explores the relationship between responsible behavior of tourists and their social media usage, specifically online photo-sharing. Data is collected by online survey of visitors to EDEN Destinations, a network promoting sustainable tourism development models across Europe.

The role of photography in the touristification of war

Author: Patrick Naef (University of Geneva) email

Short Abstract

War heritage is progressively becoming a major tourist resource in post-war countries. Over the past decades, several countries, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Northern-Ireland, have experienced a boom in tourism flows attached to war sites.

Long Abstract

This contribution aims to explore the role of photography within the framework of war and tourism. In a post-war context, photography constitutes an important element of testimony to warfare events. Furthermore, tourist visits are occurring more and more rapidly following the end of a war, leading to a hasty reconstruction of the tourism sector in concerned post-conflict regions. Photography of war has thus become an important tourism resource at tourist sites dealing with war heritage, such as museums, memorials, exhibitions or even in the framework of artefacts and souvenirs (e.g. postcards, books, posters).

The main objective of this paper is to analyse the representations and the imaginary that visual objects can create, not only for the tourists who visit war heritage sites, but also for the local population, which can be marked by a more personal, and above all, more traumatic, connection to this heritage. Another purpose is to explore the dynamics that guide the actors managing tourist war sites.

Does the presentation of images via the tourism sector aid in easing tensions that may linger in a post-war context? Or, on another hand, do they serve to enhance those tensions as a result of a unilateral interpretation of war events, which can be reinforced by the exhibition of traumatic photography?

Finally, the role of photography within the field of anthropology and war will be briefly discussed, looking specifically at a recent methodological trend referred to as "aftermath photography".

Data gathered during fieldwork in Bosnia, Vietnam and Cambodia will serve as a base for this contribution.

The Visual Culture of Religious tourism in India: Photography's role

Author: Sohail Akbar (Jamia Millia Islamia University) email

Short Abstract

The Paper seeks to look at the photographic practices surrounding pilgrimage to holy sites in India which are a very popular variant of tourism in this part of the world. Both personal photography as well as commercial activities pertaining to image making at these sites are areas to be interrogated.

Long Abstract

Religious tourism is something unique to India where huge populations of faithful people undertake journeys to pilgrim sites near and far from their homes. These pilgrimages are located at an intersection of the idea of taking a break from work therefore seeking leisure as well as seeking blessings of deities at various sites of reverence.

The paper seeks to look at the visual culture of such sites where personal and commercial intersect. Photography of performance in front of the deity as well as pictures of such religious sites are taken both by the person making the pilgrimage as well as professionals who market pictures in various forms.

As seeking closeness to God is a major aim of such pilgrimages, photography has played its own role in making the seeker realize his or her aspirations, thus bringing into focus the role of photography as a certifier as well as well a fantasy tool. This paper also seeks to bring into focus the role of photography as a facilitator of the impossible (closeness to God) in present physical life. The role of digital media in helping the religious industry in India is getting more and more linked to this notion.

Greater mobility of a vast economically progressing middle class in India has seen a major increase in photography practices as well as tourism in general; this paper will be an attempt to map the many layers of visual practices that have been associated with religious tourism and where is this leading to in the future.

Class Tourism and Photography

Author: Brian Stokoe (University of Northumbria, Newcastle, UK.) email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the theme of class tourism, with particular attention to the role of photography, in a critical case study of the imagery of the metropolitan working classes in London in the 1920s.

Long Abstract

This paper examines the collaboration between the society portraitist E.O Hoppe and the novelist J.D Beresford that resulted in the publication of 'Taken from Life', (1922), a book combining both photographic and literary typologies of London's lower classes. Here, 'Taken from Life' is situated within its authors' respective careers and considered within the broader discourses of class differentiation and Social Darwinism active in Britain in the 1920s. I argue that 'Taken from Life' is permeated by a superficially benign, but ultimately paternalistic, 'class tourism', a form of voyeurism that derives from its uneasy combination of sociological speculation with both anecdote and fiction.

Imaging Cornwall - From staged photography to touristic visions of place

Authors: Michael Ireland (Plymouth University) email

Short Abstract

This paper advances the viewpoint that the photograph hides as much as it reveals about touristic places. Behind this staging of romanticized images is the reality of places that have become reliant on tourism.

Long Abstract

This paper advances the viewpoint that the photograph hides as much as it reveals about touristic places. Photographs taken of the objects of tourists attention, for example of local people engaging in 'everyday' activities such as fishing and agriculture have been staged for that purpose. Behind this staging of romanticized images is the reality of places that have become reliant on tourism. Images of the everyday world as lived by the subject of tourists photography are rarely if ever seen.

Evidence for the staging of images for consumption can be found in a range of publications. The ownership of many of these images has been expropriated for use by tourism entrepreneurs. One of the consequences has been a loss of cultural significance.

The paper takes as its locale the Land's End peninsula of Cornwall, in south west England. This location has for sometime been the locus of attention for a very diverse range of travellers, these include artists, writers, photographers and more recently holidaymakers and second home owners. All have been attracted to a touristic vision of place, which may not be grounded in reality. The paper shows that photographs from the 19th century to the present form the basis of these tourists imaginaries and as such can tell social scientists and policy makers much about how Cornwall continues to be seen; as somewhere exotic, yet close to home.

The impact of photography in online tourism marketing - A case study of Accommodation Sector in Japan

Author: Takamitsu Jimura (Liverpool John Moores University) email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the impact of photography in online tourism marketing. Photographs work as tangible memories for tourists and images for prospective tourists. The images delivered online by tourists and presented by tourism producers can affect tourists’ decision making process and their expectation.

Long Abstract

This paper aims to examine the impact of photography as images in online tourism marketing. In tourism, photographs work as tangible memories for tourists and images for prospective tourists. Because of the rise of the Internet, now almost all tourism producers (hosts) (e.g. accommodation, attractions, transport and catering) and intermediaries (e.g. travel agents and tour operators) in most countries have their own websites. Most of such websites present images as well as text information. In addition, more and more of them also use Social Networking Sites for marketing purposes: they upload images on their Facebook page, for instance. The impact of the Internet is not limited to the images presented by the host side of tourism. Recently tourists can also deliver images from their trips to all the people who have access to the Internet via Social Networking Sites such as Facebook or Flickr. As a result, the impact of the images in online marketing has become stronger thanks to its immediacy and its ability to be diffused easily and widely. Moreover, word-of-mouth (WOM) also becomes eWOM by being shared online (e.g. TripAdvisor), and can be uploaded by tourists and read by prospective tourists easily and immediately. As a result of the research on eWOM available at TripAdvisor and Japanese e-travel agents, it has been identified that photos presented online as images by both tourism producers and tourists can affect tourists' decision making process and their expectation together with eWOM itself.

Uncommercial Photography: The Impact of Subjective Experience in Visual Travel Propaganda

Authors: Sibila Petenji Arbutina (The Higher Technical School of Professional Studies) email
Ivana Miskovic (Faculty for Sport and Tourism) email

Short Abstract

Modern tourists are seeking for new experiences, yearning to learn about other cultures as they. This paper focuses on the needs and possibilities of using an uncommercial photography in tourism purposes, in order to promote destinations and local culture in a more realistic way.

Long Abstract

Photography, as a most powerful mean of tourist propaganda and one of the strongest stimulants for travelling, has been developing almost parallel with tourist movements, continually interlacing over the time. The rapid development of photographic and marketing technology has led to the fact that today an image of every tourist destination is easily accessible for everyone. Therefore, in modern means of communication there are a number of different visual depictions of each single photographed space. Majority of those images represent "photogenic" and groomed spaces, while undesirable sights are missing, for the sake of commercial tourist market demand.

In a form of an experimental research, photos containing slum images and other realistic representations of popular tourist destinations were selected and displayed to respondents, followed by questions related to their subjective opinions, emotions and intentions to visit or know more about.

The aim of this paper is to contribute to tourism and anthropological research by pointing out that representing a destination as a commodity may harm the overall tourist impressions, unless we consider an uncommercial photography as a potential medium to promote a tourist destination in a more realistic way, and thus form the desire for travelling in order to meet local culture and experience a real "spirit" of a destination.

Key words: tourism, uncommercial photography, slums, tourist propaganda

Every picture tells a story........

Author: Paul Cleave (University of Exeter) email

Short Abstract

Photography and tourism semiotics, the role of shared, collective, and personal visual records of time and place in research. The desire to record elements of the travel career in photographs.

Long Abstract

Photographs are an important research resource, authenticating experiences in the context of tourism and anthropology. Urry (1990: pp.138 - 139) asserts that photography and tourism are inextricably linked, and that there is an insatiability of the photographing eye, in recording the experiences of tourism.

Photography allowed the individual to record elements of their holiday, for example; transport destinations, attractions and people. Batchen (1999: p.212) suggests that photography, and the photographic image is often held to be, 'a proof of that things being'. The photograph in tourism is significant in terms of memories, recording, storing and subsequently retrieving and recalling elements of the experience.

This paper utilises a photographic archive in the form of a personal snapshot album entitled: Holiday at Cliff Cottage in the month of June, 1912. It encapsulates a period, the bell epoque, and a leisurely holiday in Devon on the eve of the First World War, an era described by Pimlott (1976: p. 238) as when holidays were a luxury for many, 'saved and planned for during the rest of the year, and enjoyed in retrospect when they are over'. The photographs possess a narrative and aesthetic value, as sequentially they relate (with minimal captions) the holiday events.

The value of the photographic image issignificant in social history, and the historiography of tourism. Photographs as a record, capture a moment in time, and are an invaluable resource for the tourism and visual anthropology researcher, allowing us to view images from the distance of time and association.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.