About the responsibility of travel blogs and photographs

(Listen to the music while reading blog post.)

What do you think when looking at this picture? What kind of emotions does it evoke in you? Do you wish to go to this place?

And what do you think about this one? How do you feel? Do you feel the urge to go to this place?
These two pictures were taken with a distance of 100 meters.

Has it ever happened to you that after reading a way too positive travel description or seeing a ‘too-nice-to-be-true’ picture you finally got to a place and all you earned was a huge disappointment?
The ‘too-nice-to-be-true’ photos are generally too nice to be true. And I say it as a photographer.
When I started to study photography, my master once told me that the picture is an illusion. When we take photos, in fact we make illusion. At that time I believed everything that my master told me without questioning or thinking over it, so I also started to produce illusion. Only that somewhere deep inside I had an inconvenient little doubt and later on it became clear that this kind of thinking just didn’t fit me. For me a photograph is good when it is honest, simple, evokes emotions or gives some feeling, on the other hand it’s not only for effect and lacks all manipulation or hocus-pocus.
But this is a complicated issue as most of the time we photographers tend to capture the beauty, the visual interest.
If a place, a landscape, a culture or people doesn’t inspire me, doesn’t make me wonder or doesn’t make me feel like telling stories about, I rather leave my camera untouched instead of taking photos without inspiration and meaning.

(average street in Santa Maria, a couple hundred meters away from the five star hotels. Island of Sal / Cape Verde)

On the other hand this is not the best approach.
Photography itself is an incredibly subjective thing and although it’s a cliché, it’s true that if you put ten photographers to the same spot, ask them to capture the place, they will provide you with ten different points of view. Trying to put their own experiences, approaches, the essence of their lives, some of their personality and traces of their actual mood into the pictures.
I also believe that if a photographer got the same task in different life periods, he would solve it differently.
Furthermore, we also distort the reality if we display it from a single aspect with the desire to show only the good (and not the bad and the ugly). It might cause the viewer sigh deeply in pleasure, but this way one gets to know only a small slice of the truth.

And now another philosophic thought: everybody has different truth. With a brunch of pictures you can show a place only slightly, so the purpose of the pictures should be just to raise interest in something, not to give a complete analysis or full description. This is what all travelers have to do for themselves. Subjectively.
It’s so important what kind of information, experience and feelings we provide describing a place. And this is why travel bloggers, different travel descriptions, travel photographers etc. have so big responsibility.
Let’s see the simplest example: just think about how big the disappointment is when you see this post’s first picture about Sal, island of Cape Verde and then arriving there you have to face with the second.

(golden sand, turquoise ocean, fishing net idyll. Santa Maria / island of Sal / Cape Verde)

The internet is full of ecstatic travel posts, always smiling travel bloggers who make always happy selfies everywhere, full of ’10 things you must see when you visit this and that place’ blog posts, while we rarely find honest posts, or descriptions of negative experiences, not to mention raising attention of potential danger.
I might be off the track a bit, but I have to say I also rarely bump into blog posts where the authors write honestly about failures of ours, about how many times we fall during our travels, how many times we make bad decisions, what kind of difficulties we have to face, what obstacles we have to overcome, what we miss.
Life has its dark side as well, even if the travelers seem to be the luckiest creatures on Earth. And this is not a complain, don’t get me wrong. Just clarifying a way too positive and oversaturated dream.

Honesty also has another side effect that comes from subjectivity. What if you didn’t like a place and you emphasis this in your blog post or with your photos? What if you make somebody give up their plans to go to this place, who otherwise would have liked what you hated?
Pressure is enormous. And there is not a solution for every problem. All you can do is to touch a subject with sensitivity, trying to present honestly what you experienced with the total awareness of your responsibility.

(Blog posts and all the pictures on this website: Melinda Egyed / mind-the-map.com)


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