People who Take Pictures of Pictures

Welcome back, readers. Or perhaps it is you who should be welcoming me back.

You see, I’ve just returned from a bank-balance defying two week vacation in Amsterdam and Paris, where I gorged myself on wine, food, wine, culture, wine, art, wine and wine.

Without boring the ever-loving shit out of you with intricate details about the museums and sites I visited, or sharing my hideously overexposed holiday snaps, I’ll get straight to the bit where I run my mouth and complain about the worst part of all of those beautiful places:

People who take pictures of pictures.


If you’ve ever been a tourist in a foreign land, you’ll know that keen yearning to be perceived as anything other than a tourist, an illusion instantly shattered when you open your stupid trap to say something, anything, and proceed to orally rape your host’s language.

There are some members of this visiting horde who embrace their ‘otherness’, who travel atop open-topped buses, keep their foreign monies in genital-brushing fanny packs, and follow the raised umbrellas of fatigued tour guides from attraction to attraction. But I have no quibble with these discordantly-dressed, sun-cap bedecked twats.

Even though I just called them ‘twats’.

It’s nothing personal.

My fresh, hot hatred is aimed solely at those dick-licking shit gibbons that stand in line for hours to enter acclaimed museums, walls laden with the efforts of hundreds of artists over sometimes thousands of years, so that they can take a fucking photo and then quickly move on. They walk, from ground-breaking masterpiece, to era-defining opus snapping each one in turn with their cellphones like it was nothing more than a QR code at a Coca Cola event.

And you know what else? It’s not just the smartphone dummies. The Nikon and Canon DSL ‘pro-sumers’ are even worse, because they do it with a special sense of entitlement.

They see, but they don’t look.

So what’s the big deal? What is my problem?

Surely by now, I should have accepted the nature of such horticulture (you can take a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think. Budum tish).

Even if you live in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona or London, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to really see and absorb every piece of art available. I get that. There’s just too much to see to spend time ‘appreciating’ every piece. You have other stuff to do… you know… your job, the latest season of GOT, hard drugs… that kind of thing.

But the one question I want to ask all these happy snappers, who force their way to the front of a crowd, frame up, hit ‘shoot’ and then piss off, is this:

“What are you going to do with all of these pictures of pictures?”

Do you really intend to inflict them on your nearest and dearest? All 600 of them?

Are you really going to pore over them one rainy Sunday afternoon and take in the subtle nuances of shading, brush stroke and composition that you didn’t pay attention to when you were actually in front of the real work?

Or are you just going to whack them all onto an external and then never look at them again?

In which case, was it worth it? To spend your precious time off standing in line for hours? To spend your precious cash on paying admission? To deal with the claustrophobic crowds of douche-monkeys, just so that you could show all of your Insta-lemmings that you were there, that you did see the handful of famous paintings you recall from your high school art lessons?

Even if, in seeing them, you didn’t really look?

Wouldn’t your time have been better spent in these vibrant, varied, incredible places doing stuff you actually like doing?

Did you know you could see better quality photos of these paintings by just Googling them?

Okay fine, so that was more like nine questions.

But you don’t see me going to any maths museums to take a lots of crappy photos of famous equations.

Just saying.



7 thoughts on “People who Take Pictures of Pictures

  1. In the not so distant past, a large portion of Western culture were mindless consumers of Mass Media. As new Mass Media technology proliferated and created the incredible potential for a large portion of society to produce and publish Mass Media content, much of Western culture became mindless consumers and producers of Mass Media. Even more significantly they also turned themselves into content.

    I suppose a worse trend are selfies taken where you photo bomb a piece of famous artwork. That though brings to mind the generation of my parents & in-laws. I have photo albums of family group shots posing my monuments or Niagara Falls – trying to document their existence and that they were somewhere memorable. Generations that followed would pose at a tropical beach resort, usually with a drink in hand. Changes in technology just made the behaviour ubiquitous.

    An interesting aspect of visual art and forms of photography is how content and form flow into one another. The photograph and the painting are the first forms of Mass Media that themselves turn into Mass Media Content. The painting exists on its own. A photograph exists on its own. But you can turn the painting into content by photographing it. You can then take the photograph and include it in a magazine or a blog post and it becomes content. Mass Media consumes itself and we turn ourselves into Mass Media as part of the process. Just put the photo of the painting on a shirt and wear it. 🙂

  2. Basterds indeed!!! Your post makes me think of why we even take any photos to begin with, trying to capture a moment that we are not even fully engaged in because we are, in fact, trying to capture the moment… capture-ception? Momeception? And yet, we take photos, of everything, from famous paintings to nature because, hey, we have semi-smart phones and Insta-lemmings (LOVED this one, also, I don’t have insta-anything). Anyway, hope you are well. Great post as per usual.

  3. I think there is a problem with our generation in general, with regards to taking pictures.

    Everyone is a photographer now. And nothing gets appreciated anymore. The 1000 ‘s of pictures on my phone are stored on MY external… I haven’t printed a single one that I “cherish” so much… Sad, but true…

    • Yeah, I agree. As much as it’s great not to have to worry about using film reels (showing my age), it’s removed that level of decision making you used to have when you knew you had a limited number of shots… So you had to make every one count. By all means take pictures of people and friends on your experiences- but 100’s of unnecessary pictures of the same artwork just seems like such a waste of time to me.

Comments are closed.