Certain acquaintances have made painting pilgrimages to Tuscany. These have involved month-long sojourns in small villages and hill-towns where daily activities of “plein-air” painting are interspersed with leisurely long lunches and prolonged wine-soaked dinners. They return home to suburbia, laden down with numerous picturesque paintings and also with a plethora of photographic references which can be used to churn out yet more pictures.
A friend had travelled to Russia – St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk, and came back with many pictures of the Soviet Wedding-Cake architecture of Moscow, and of the ornate Imperial architecture of St. Petersburg. She expressed huge frustration about how the locals discouraged her from making photographs which might broadcast negative impressions of their homeland. They were insistent on what was worthy of being photographed, and frequently interrupted her efforts to take images of subjects of a non-picturesque nature.
My daughter-in-law’s mother and friend visited here last summer. They had come from the Scotland, bearing their cameras. They wanted photographs of the main gate in China-town, of the groomed exotic nature of the Sun Yat Sen Garden, of the view seen from the gondola as they rode up the mountain in Whistler – a panorama of peaks diminishing into hazy distance. While walking near the river, they may have noted small tugs nosing floating logs into booms, or the occasional log-handler jumping from log to log, but an image like this they did not deem worthy of photographing. They did not note the peculiar beauty of the sulphur hills by the waterfront, it did not fit their idea of the picturesque.
It seems to me that many people traverse the globe, ceaselessly and persistently, seeking the unique, different, exotic and memorable views that are already plentifully available in their own little corner of the world – if they bothered to look and consider with fresh eyes.