Earlier this week I was sitting by the water’s edge on the pier in Sibenik; a lovely medieval city along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. I had spent the morning exploring the cobbled lanes, snapping away happily with my camera while the bike lent precariously on my side. As I watched local fishermen and listened to the swell of the salty water, a tour group arrived and went absolutely mad with their cameras. They ran around in circles frantically capturing the moment for their digital or printed travel photo albums. Witnessing such horrible tourist pictures being taken, I began to reflect on how the camera has affected the way a tourist experiences a destination.
Within moments I was revisiting many theoretical discussions encountered years ago in my modern history degree at Sydney University. Silly thoughts swarmed around in my lonesome head of mine, and ultimately I came to ask myself if riding around with a camera in my handlebar bag has negatively affected how I have experienced the multitude of places visited in Europe. After all, each country I cycle through is being reduced to a singular digital album on Flikr, and each week one image is printed in a weekly article in the Camden Narellan Advertiser back at home. So with these thought-provoking philosophical ramblings going on within my mind for hours at a time on the saddle, I thought it might be nice to share with you a short research paper written during my fascinating university course Pilgrim to Backpacker: Travel Histories.
Research Question: How did the invention and later development of the camera affect the way tourists see and experience place?
The invention and later development of the camera has had a profound impact on the ways in which tourists see and experience place when travelling. The invention of the camera enabled the tourist to frame and compose transparent visual representations of their travels, thereby ordering and presenting the world as an object for the modernist gaze. This essay will analyse the development of the camera within modern tourism, thereby highlighting the ways in which the medium of photography is ultimately inseparable from that of the culture and society of the tourist photographer. In contextualising the historical use of the camera by tourists since 1840, it will be demonstrated that the camera accounts for the dominant ways in which the modern tourist sees. The camera has therefore developed into a way of rendering the visual tourist experience permanent, thereby providing alternate ways of seeing and experiencing place.
The development of the camera in tourism constitutes a distinctive travel style through which tourists see and experience place. However, the prominence of the camera in tourism needs to be situated within the broader development in discourses of seeing and the rise of visualisation culture. Judith Adler has traced the historical rise in discourses of seeing since the fifteenth-century, which comprises a shift in travelling style to that of seeing and experiencing place through an observational method which privileges the eye. Although Adler notes the way in which the same historical period can easily accommodate several distinctive travel styles deploying the senses in different ways, the invention and later development of the camera provided impetus to the visual dimension of seeing and experiencing place. The prominence of the visual senses in both ordering and regulating the relationship of the various sensuous experiences when travelling has prompted John Urry to develop the notion of the tourist gaze.  Although such notions of the tourist gaze are in many ways reductionistic, it provides a useful conceptual model from which to consider the impact of the camera on the ways in which the tourist sees and experiences place.
The ways in which a tourist sees and experiences places through the use of the camera is largely dependent upon the ‘cultural baggage one takes to any situation’ to be photographed. In this way Joan Schwartz has noted the way in which photographs supplement other cultural pre-texts, thereby becoming an integral part in the construction of imaginative geographies. For instance, literary texts had a profound influence on European travellers to the East in the nineteenth-century, with tourists seeing and experiencing the orient through their camera according to the mythic ambiance of the Arabian Nights. In The Colonial Harem, Malek Alloula similarly examines the colonial gaze embedded in the French postcards of Algerian women in the same period, with the image of the colonised woman appropriated for the ‘devouring appetite of the great mother countries…thirsty for eroticism… (becoming) the poor man’s phantasm: for a few pennies, display racks full of dreams.’ In contributing to the colonialist imagination, such photographic images served to maintain cultural values, social beliefs and political relations of colonial and Orientalist discourses. The development of the camera as an instrument of seeing has therefore been greatly influenced by the individual tourist’s society and culture, in which the coloniser gaze of the period of empire has become largely supplanted by that of the tourist gaze.
The camera has had a profound influence on the development of modern tourism, particularly in the activity of sightseeing. Technological developments such as the camera largely accounts for the prominence of sightseeing in modern tourism, in which the rise of ‘tourist destination marketing’ in the tourist industry has shaped modern forms of travel. In this way Roland Barthes has emphasised the way in which the iconic image of the Eiffel Tower in Paris functions as an imagined signifier for the tourist, transforming the tower into a touristic rite of initiation, adventure and intelligence for the visiting tourist. The construction of tourist destinations through such discourses of experiencing place through seeing is also apparent in the typical images photographed by modern tourists at the Taj Mahal in India. In this way visual images selected for photography at the tourist destination by the individual are often reproduced from the perspective of images already seen in travel brochures, postcards, films and television shows. Moreover, Peter Osborne has emphasised the visualised nature of modern society, with each sight signifying other tourist locations to generate desire, becoming ‘…translated into the economy of exchangeable images and tourist experiences.’ The camera, together with other visual technological developments in society, consequently greatly affects the way modern tourists see and experience place.
Tourist locations have therefore become increasingly signposted for the modern tourist to seek iconic images, to ‘stock the traveller’s visual combinatorium.’ In this way Dean MacCannell claims that through the process of taking photos when sightseeing, tourists are essentially ‘incorporating its fragments into a unified experience.’ Susan Sontag has similarly addressed the phenomenon of tourist photography as an obsessive need ‘to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism which everyone is addicted.’ Moreover, Sontag highlights the way in which the use of the camera by the tourist is an anxiety reducing activity, in which the tourist often feels compelled to use the camera. Such routinisation of the use of the camera, in which the tourist essentially becomes subconsciously forced to photograph an experience abroad through such photographic ritual, is the ultimate embodiment of the impact of the camera on the way a tourist functions when seeing and experiencing place.
The invention and subsequent development of the camera evidently had a profound effect on the ways in which tourists see and experience place. In the emergence of modern tourism the camera has had a primary role in shaping tourist destinations, in which tourists see and experience place largely through the camera, which has become ‘a favoured object of enquiry, of enjoyment and desire, elected as significant.’ In this way the camera has caused a reduction of sites into visual fragments, altering the way in which the world is perceived to extend and refine the practice of sightseeing. Moreover, in standardising visual experience, the camera has ultimately caused the suppression of other senses when experiencing place. In addition, photographs are utilised by the tourist after the experience of place to formulate imagery according to a solidified experience of travel, cataloguing their travel knowledge to define and remember place through both electronic and standard photo albums. In this way the use of the camera, through its perceived objectivity, provides evidence and status for friends and family who did not experience the tourist place. However, it needs to be noted that both the psyche of the individual tourist as well as the social psychological context of the traveller needs to be taken into account when considering the use of the camera. Nevertheless, trends in modern tourism indicate that the use of the camera predominates in most forms of travel, profoundly influencing the way in which the tourist both sees and experiences place.
After writing this paper I did my own experiment by travelling a month without a camera in Indonesia. It was really interesting to see how I experienced and remembered my travels. I still vividly remember walking up volcanoes in the cool of the dawn, doing multiple scuba dives of a shipwreck, raving at a beach party, and exploring fascinating townships in the thick humidity of the day. So is the camera really necessary? And next time you go abroad, will you take your camera with you?
I have friends in England who will happily tell you how many ‘jumping’ photographs I have utterly ruined. So to congratulate myself on my first successful jumping photo, I thought I would share with you an image taken last week in the Austrian Alps:
 Jonathan Friday, Aesthetics and photography (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), p. 101.
 Joan Schwartz, ‘The Geography Lesson: Photographs and the Construction of Imaginative Geographies’, Journal of Historical Geography, 22, no. 1 (1996), p. 17.
 Judith Adler, ‘Origins of Sightseeing’, Annals of Tourism Research, 16, no. 1 (1989), pp. 13-16.
 Adler, ‘Origins of Sightseeing’, p. 24.
 Peter Osborne, Travelling Light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 81.
 John Urry, The Tourist Gaze (London, Sage Publications, 2002), p. 145.
 On a consideration of the tourist gaze see Arthur Berger, Deconstructing Travel: Cultural Perspectives on Tourism (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2004), pp. 24-26.
 David Uzzell, ’An Alternative Structuralist Approach to the Psychology of Tourism Marketing’, Annals of Tourism Research, 11, no. 1 (1984), p. 82.
 Schwartz, ‘Photographs and the Construction of Imaginative Geographies’, p. 31.
 Mounira Khemir, ‘The Orient in the Photographers’ Mirror: From Constantinople to Mecca’, in Roger Benjamin ed., Orientalism: Delacroix to Klee (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1997), p. 192.
 Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), pp. 3-4.
 Schwartz, ‘Photographs and the Construction of Imaginative Geographies’, p. 31.
 Olivia Jenkins, ‘Photography and Travel Brochures: the Circle of Representation’, Tourism Geographies, 5, no. 3 (2003), p. 305.
 Barthes, The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies (New York: Hill and Wang, 1979), pp. 8-13.
 For instance, see the electronic photographs compiled in Flickr depicting travellers’ images of the Taj Mahal in Agra. Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/micbaun/sets/72157601651472439/, viewed 14 October 2008.
 Jenkins, ‘Photography and Travel Brochures’, p. 308.
 Osborne, Travelling Light, p. 72.
 Osborne, Travelling Light, p. 79.
 Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (London: Macmillan, 1976), p. 13.
 Susan Sontag, On Photography (London: Allen Lane, 1978), p. 24.
 Sontag, On Photography, p. 10.
 For a discussion of the configuration of power and the gaze, see Michel Foucault, ‘The Eye of Power’, in Colin Gordon, ed., Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977 (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1980), pp. 161-164.
 Osborne, Travelling Light, p. 88.
 Schwartz, ‘Photographs and the Construction of Imaginative Geographies’, p. 33.