The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On May - 27 - 2009

I couldn’t decide what to title this post or even how to focus my efforts. On the one hand I am approaching this topic from an Anthropological perspective, which means I could go on for days about the ethical dilemmas that are at the core of this industry. On the other hand I wanted this post to be accessible and relevant to everyone (not just board theorists) and therefore I tried to focus in on the history of this industry. It is from these contrived roots that this post and the long title that hangs overtop were created.

The tourist industry has a great deal of significance in today’s global market, many developing counties GDP being largely reliant on travelers. In an environment of extremes, where work and play are often two distinct worlds, our relaxation time becomes a space that we claim for ourselves. To be a tourist is something that many people see as something they have ‘earned’ and, therefore, an experience that is supposed to meet their imaginations and desires. Theme parks are a great example of this, artificially constructed universes where, for a price, “all your dreams come true.” The roots of this industry can be traced far back in history, such as the cruise taken by Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut in 1490 B.C., the tourism industry that formed in ancient Greece around the Olympic games or even the networks of roads in the Roman Empire that made traveling activities possible (Wylie p.15, 2000). The emergence of an industry that more closely resembles modern tourism appeared much later, in the mid 15th century with the Grand Tour (Wylie p. 17, 2000). The Grand Tour made circular routes to places in Western Europe, although the length of these trips declined over the years they continued to be popular for educational and recreational purposes. The importance of travel took a step further in the hands of Thomas Cook a printer and a lay preacher in the Baptist church. Cook believed traveling was part of an improved way of living, one that promoted good health and better moral fiber. Cook devoted himself to popularizing this activity, working to promote and organize trips from 1842 until his death in 1892 (Wylie p.21, 2000). In the 1900’s tourism continued to leap forward as an increased separation between work and leisure, improved transportation techniques and a growth in disposable incomes made travelling more accessible (Shapley, p.223 1994). The tours of the 1540’s involving mostly English travelers visiting Western Europe have evolved into an industry that spans the globe, redefining the world along the way. Being a tourist is still a role that sits disproportionately among certain cultures. This First World-Second World dichotomy in tourism has been forged in part by such international organizations as the IMF and the World Bank, these financial institutions pushed developing nations to roll out the red carpet for tourism. This industry continues to challenge our understanding of the world, providing a way to glimpse at what is often outside of the everyday, but by our very presence in these spaces we are irreparably changing them, leaving destinations that were once seen as foreign to assume the characteristics of the common and mundane. This leaves that untouched paradise so prolific in tourist broachers to be perpetually elusive. With these ideas in mind I have long struggled with how to go on vacation without falling into the trap of having a detrimental impact on the place that you are visiting. I love to travel and wherever I go I attempt to remember that my presence as a traveler in a different culture is a privilege. I try and consider the implications of the decisions I make as a tourist for the places and the people I am visiting. Bellow are some images from the early days of tourism spanning from the late 1800’s up until the 1950’s, showing the roots of this very intriguing and controversial industry.

Sharpley, R. Tourism in postmodern Society. Tourism, Tourist and Society (pp.220-256). Kings Ripton Huntingdonshire, U.K.: Elm Publications.

Wylie Robert, W. Tourism and Society; A Guide to Problems and Issues. Venture Publishing inc. 2000.

1861 1881 Tourist guides Te Wairoa Village Tourism: The Great Debate The Great History or Sea Shells and Luggage Tagstourism

1861-1881. Tourist guides Sophia (standing), Kati and another, outside Hinemihi meeting house at Te Wairoa. Taken by Elizabeth Pulman. Te Wairoa village was destroyed in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera, and this house is now at Clandon Park in England. The name of the house in full is Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito (Hinemihi of the ancient world). Alexander Turnbull Library Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand.

1875 Tourist Ascending Great Pyramid Tourism: The Great Debate The Great History or Sea Shells and Luggage Tagstourism

1875 picture is labeled “Ascending-Pyramid Félix Bonfils Egypt 1875: Tourists receiving help from Egyptians to ascend the “Big Pyramide”. Bonfils, Félix, 1831-1885.


Circa 1900’s. The Steamboat Wharf baggage shed, with a large crowd milling through numerous trunks, Nantucket Heritage Association Library.

Morgat tourisme Tourism: The Great Debate The Great History or Sea Shells and Luggage Tagstourism

visit to caves of Morgat.

Français : vue de la baie de Morgat (Baie de Douarnenez, Finistère, Bretagne, France). La photo est prise des grottes de Crozon, avec au fond l’arche de la pointe du Kador (ou du Gador). Les grottes de Morgat et de Crozon sont visitées par les touristes depuis le 19ème siècle. Public domain image.

1906 Francis Joseph Glacier Tourism: The Great Debate The Great History or Sea Shells and Luggage Tagstourism

1906, Francis Joseph Glacier. Photographer: James Ring (1856-1939), 1906 Albumen print Reference No. PA1-o-436-16-2 Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand.

1912 Ice Bridge Niagra Tourism: The Great Debate The Great History or Sea Shells and Luggage Tagstourism

1912. Ice Bridge, Niagara. Title from unverified data provided by the Bain News Service on the negatives or caption cards. Glass negatives. Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress). : Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.


February 29, 1924. Inscribed on negative: George D’Andria/ Pyramids/ 29-2-24 D’Andria. Photographed by George D’Andria. The New York Public Library. Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.

1952 Paris souvenirs Tourism: The Great Debate The Great History or Sea Shells and Luggage Tagstourism

1952. All Paris in a Box. Paris, France. Gelatin-silver print. Photographed by Bing, Ilse, born 1899 – died 1998 (photographers). Gelatin-silver print. Credit Bequeathed by Ilse Bing Wolff.

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