When Japanese tourists travel through Europe, they seem to spent their whole time taking pictures completely banal stuff as if everything was exciting and worth capturing. A lot of people have this stereotype image of Asian tourists. We smile, perhaps thinking how ridiculous their touristic behaviour is. But it’s not that simple.
The image above was taken around one and a half years ago in the south of Taiwan. I observed how many of my German friends with whom I travelled around stopped by this lemon-selling tuk-tuk next to the night-market. Suddenly everybody pulled out their camera to photograph the lemons and the Taiwanese seller, who was somewhat confused by the sudden attention to say the least (not on this picture). This picture showing two European tourists in Asia made me understand much better why many Asian tourists get so excited in photographing seemingly banal things during their trips to the west. It’s simply because these things don’t feel banal to them, just as this lemon-tuk-tuk was not banal for us during our first days on the island. So in conclusion, we aren’t any different in that sense after all. Another question is why some nationalities like Germans and Japanese tend to photograph a lot in particular. Susan Sontag has a good answer to that, but I will get to that another time.
As tourists, travellers, visitors, however you want to call it, seeing new environments generally inspires us as we see the world with fresh new eyes. When changing perspectives is when many photographs are taken. It’s the change of perspective that inspires. Certainly over half of the pictures in my archive have been taken outside of my current “home-city”.
I have a friend who grew up in Paris and is now a very ambitioned photographer. He started photographing during a twelve month stay in Japan as he was fascinated by the visual impressions. When he came back to Paris, all of the sudden his home seemed completely changed to his eyes and he got well inspired to photograph the city of Paris.