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Who Are Those Travel Photos For, Really?

You were there... but your heart really wasn't.

Contributed by Lonely Platypus

explore, travel, who are those travel photos for, really?

Remember the last time you went away somewhere for a vacation? When it comes to packing, the first thing that pops in mind would be, don’t forget the camera! What does a passport matter anyway, right? It is just there for you to snap a picture together with your plane ticket and post it on Facebook so the whole world would know you’ll be flying off to Amsterdam. Hell, if you forgot your passport, you would at least take a picture of the airport and hashtag #fml.

Before the age Facebook and Instagram, pictures used to mean something. A picture used to symbolise an experience, an emotion – that’s why it was known to capture the moment, it paints a thousand words. Now, taking a photo evolved as similarly as having a tattoo. Both used to have value, now they virtually do not mean anything anymore, merely to please others around you, aiming to convey the image of perceived superiority. Yes, pictures do that too. Ever seen a vacation album of someone enjoying life in France that made you wonder how much your kidneys are worth to afford that getaway? Or if you have to add an extra half a liver? Exactly.

“Ever seen a vacation album of someone enjoying life in France that made you wonder how much your kidneys are worth to afford that getaway?”

Have you come across that friend on Facebook after a vacation and you scrolled through their pictures and think, Just why? They have a hundred seemingly identical photos of the same place, especially more when in a more luxurious place like Europe. Somehow, people have a need to hit a quota for a vacation photo album. You can’t come back with 10 photos, you need hundreds, and enough to stitch it together to make a motion picture when you get home.

I used to be excited about taking lots of pictures. Before I went on a long trip, my first thought was, ‘I need a good camera and good lenses”. Personally, I like to dabble with a camera settings and I feel travelling was a way to explore different scenarios and picture compositions.

A couple of months into my travels, I looked back at the pictures I have taken and most of them had no impression on me whatsoever. I had the same emotional attachment to them as I do looking at my ex-girlfriend, or a wall. I realised I have only travelled through the eyes of the lens, most of them are really taken because I was there and I might as well waste some memory (or film, depending on how hipster you are) – thinking all this walking have to pay off somehow.

“I had the same emotional attachment to them as I do looking at my ex-girlfriend, or a wall.”

What was worse was that I even posted some on social media, not for myself, but for others to see where I am and what I did. Those pictures meant zero to me, but I took it anyway because I felt obligated to feed the prying eyes of those who knew I was travelling. Not surprisingly, nearly all of those soulless pictures were pictures of so-called tourist spots or popular buildings. Sights to prove you were there when your heart really isn’t.

For the remaining ones, they were what pictures were made for. One look and they sparked a memory, a sensation and emotion of the moment – the excitement, fear and intensity. These are pictures worth taking, a picture that paints a thousand words. I have pictures taken, even though not having the perfect composition and saturation that puts me back in those shoes, imagining the cold breeze, the serenity and the nonchalance.

Most of these ‘pictures for others’ are ultimately pictures of buildings or sites that you have no interest in but go anyway because some website gave it a 5-star rating or said it is a must-go. Like most choices in life, they have been made for you. So you wake up early to rush there, take a million pictures of the Eiffel Tower or the Stonehenge because that is what everyone does, but in reality, to you it is just a giant dildo and an ancient big-ass Lego set.

I know what you are thinking, what in the arse is this guy talking about? The whole point of social media is to share! But that is not the point of a vacation. You take time off to unwind and get detached from your stressful environment, then you go on a trip to have a picture-taking spree to impress the people who don’t matter to you, probably the same people you were trying to get away from in the first place.

Sure, share your trip pictures and your adventures, don’t be selfish. But don’t do it to the point where you forget why you go on the trip in the first place. Travelling is for you and you only; do yourself a favour and live the moment because it does not come often.

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