International Tourism Management
Tawanda Kurt Takundwa
Individual Research Proposal
Word Count: 2,997
Tourist Photography: A social network study.
There is very little academic work carried out on why people share their vacation photographs online and more specifically on social networking sites. The motives behind tourists vacation photography is an interesting subject to study on its own, but, unfortunately that topic has been exhausted. Lo et al., (2011), however, provided one of the first pieces of research that brings together tourists vacation photography and online photo-sharing. Since then, no academics have yet expanded on the authors’ findings. This is the main interest point of this research project; to build on earlier findings by Lo et al., (2011) from the perspective of British People and just specifically, their motivations to share their vacation photographs on social networking sites.
Many authors (Sontag, 1977; Markwell, 1997; Robinson and Picard, 2007; Chalfen, 1979; Garrod; 2009, Urry 1990; Haldrup and Larsen, 2003; Larsen, 2004; Albers and James, 1988) have acknowledged the strong and inseparable connection between tourism and photography in their works. Sontag (1977:9) stated, over 35 yeas ago, that “it seems positively unnatural to travel for pleasure without taking a camera along”. Since then, taking into consideration the advancements in technology, almost every tourist has a means of taking photographs whilst on vacation be it with a compact digital camera or a mobile phone.
Building on the acknowledged connection between tourism and photography, authors such as Sontag, (1977), Chalfen, (1979), Chalfen,(1987), (Urry (1990) and Markwell (1997) were amongst the first authors to begin to investigate the motives as to why tourists take photographs. The general emerging theme from their works is that, for tourists, taking photographs is evidence that the trip was made and a method of recording that what was seen was there and that “the program was carried out, that fun was had” (Sontag 1977:9). Taking photographs further provides evidence that the individual or group has experienced some form the authentic and the exotic (Chalfen, 1979; Chalfen, 1987). Furthermore, photographs play a deep symbolic role in terms of helping tourists to construct travel memories (Albers and James; 1988 Haywood, 1990) and from those memories people can create narratives and stories (Lo et al., 2011). Urry (1990: 138) states, “photography is a socially constructed way of seeing and recording”.
Urry (1990 also in Garrod, 2009) offers a few more reasons that have been referenced by other academics (Bourdieu, 1990 in Palmer and Lester, 2005; Markwell, 1997; Chalfen, 1979; Garlick, 2002; Osborne, 2000) as to why tourists take photographs. Firstly, to photograph something is in some way to acquire and possess the photographed object; photography seems to be a means of transcribing reality; the photograph its self has the power to pass itself off as a genuine small version of the actual attraction; from their photographs people are able to make emotional connections from their vacations that is to say, it enables the photographer to interpret the image captured and therefore tell stories about it in the future; photography is a global phenomenon in society and a democratised practice; for protection against time because photography enables people to capture and preserve time and space in a visual way thus, providing them with a tangible reminder of past memories and experiences in the form of a photograph.
Moving away from the motives of tourist photographic activity, there has been very little academic work done on establishing a connection between the act of people taking photographs whilst on vacation and the act of people sharing their photographs on social networking sites. Lo, et al., (2011) provide one of