Saturday, March 1, 2008
It's A Small(er) World, After All
The voyage of discovery requires seeing with new eyesThis Article Features Photo Zoom
We’re talking now about populations so large that their middle class almost exceeds the entire population of the U.S. or Western Europe (there are estimated to be some 200 million college graduates in India alone). Combine this fact with the explosion in interest in photography since the advent of digital, and it’s not hard to see why the world’s major travel sites are swollen with tourists, Flickr just posted its two billionth photo, and there’s speculation that within two years, the Internet itself may not be able to handle the traffic without a hugely expensive infrastructure overhaul (that, to date, nobody wants to pony up for).
The immediate upshot of this for travel photographers is that it’s getting darn near impossible to photograph any of the major sites without including hundreds of your fellow tourists doing the same thing, let alone a fresh perspective or a new angle. On this recent trip, I literally was pinned against a wall in a chamber of Ta Prohm, one of the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, for 10 minutes (I started timing it after about a minute) as hordes of Korean tourists marched through (I lost count at 115, and I’m estimating it was more than 300 people, judging from the amount of time it took me to escape and the number of huge buses that were parked outside the temple). The experience left me a bit claustrophobic, not to mention despairing of getting any kind of unpeopled shot of this moody complex. This is a place which, only a few short years ago, if you showed up anytime before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m., you had almost entirely to yourself.
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