August 15, 2010
Through the lens
In the most famous areas of the park, we saw photographers, often with tripods and camera bags full of lenses. I could see how the incredible landscape, with its churning geysers, meadows filled with bison, and rock cliffs with waterfalls would attract them.
Far more common, though, were tourists who kept taking photos not of the landscape but of themselves, a curious custom that I’ve never quite figured out. Because I’m the kind of person who stops and talks to anyone who passes me, strangers kept handing me their cameras and asking me to take photos as they smiled into the camera. I kept wanting to say, “Um, this is going to be a crappy photo. It’s noon, with harsh sunlight, there are shadows in your faces, and no one is going to even see the landscape by the time all five of you get into the shot.”
Mostly, I didn’t say anything. I would take the camera and obediently snap the shot. But I still haven’t figured out the reason why people on vacation hold up a camera (or a phone) and take a photo of themselves. I mean, the shots don't usually come out very well. And I can’t think that there is any danger that they are going to forget about the time they saw a geyser shoot water 150 feet into the air. Maybe the experience of the fantastic landscape is so incredible that it's the equivalent of pinching themselves to see if it's real. Or maybe it’s just some need for proof, to show the rest of the world, “See? I was here.”
Posted by jo(e)