Pilgrims and passers-by, a photographer's perspective: anthropological approaches in fine art and documentary photography practice
Alys Tomlinson (SOAS)
Paper 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.
Paper 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.
Tourism and Photography