I wish you weren’t here: Photos showing a clock from the life of ‘quiet’ tourist spots | Travel

NAtacha de Mahieu reached the edge of the Obersee, a remote lake in the southeastern corner of Germany surrounded by lush green mountains and impressive waterfalls, in August 2021. The weather was cold; it rained. “It wasn’t much fun being there. It was very cold and everything was wet”, 26-year-old De Mahieu, he says, laughing from his home in Brussels.

Tourists came and took self-portraits against the scenery. De Mahieu realized that as soon as someone stepped in front of the camera, they would shed their layers in defiance of the cold to convey the image of a happy summer. In front of the camera: T-shirts, flying dresses. Behind: padded jackets. It was Instagram versus reality.

De Mahieu’s photography series titled Theater of Authenticity explores the connection between tourism and spectacle and how we perform when we travel, especially when we think no one is watching. Photographs is her final project for her master’s degree in documentary photography and brings together three of her most pressing issues: tourism, social media and climate change.

“I love to travel,” says De Mahieu, remembering a trip to Bolivia at the age of 18, when he became interested in photography. “I am also very curious about why we love to travel and our motivations.” And he adds: “I spend too much time on social media.” While scrolling through Instagram, De Mahieu began to get the feeling that “everyone is going to the same places using the same photographic compositions, the same colors.” She ignited the dilemma of a multi-generation Z artist, she. Surrounded by endless digital content, she began to wonder if she could make something truly unique.

And so De Mahieu took this concern for uniqueness and gave it a twist. He was going to take exactly the kind of photo that tens of thousands of people had taken. But instead, he would have added more people when confronted with a crowded destination, as many tourists using cameras do – pushing other people out of sight and presenting an image that suggests they are alone surrounded by natural splendor.

It started by identifying some of the most geographically tagged European tourist destinations on Instagram, including the lake in Obersee, Turkey’s romantic Cappadocia region (famous for its hot air balloons), Spain’s Bardenas Reales desert, and the rocky. streams (bays) in Marseille. Traveling to these places in his caravan over the summer, he would usually spend two days at each location. The first day was devoted to determining the area and finding the best angle to shoot. The next day, he would set up his camera on a tripod and take pictures at hourly intervals, recording the tourists coming and going. While editing, he would use Photoshop to create a time-lapse collage showing all the people who had visited the area for more than 60 minutes. It can take up to a week for a finished image to become perfect.

There is a version of this project that will take on some of the world’s most popular destinations: hikers atop the Great Wall of China; hundreds of them pretend to keep the Leaning Tower of Pisa standing. However, De Mahieu deliberately chose unpopular locations. “I wanted to show the impact of this kind of ‘invisible tourism’ in these places. When I say invisible, I mean you get the feeling that you’re alone when you’re there. But there are a lot of people who go there for more than an hour or an afternoon.”

This is a commentary on how social media can quickly turn a place into a must-see – an Instagram post by an influencer can turn the floodgates off – and also how that fame can have harmful environmental impacts (in Marseille’s Calanques in June of this year). ‘i national park shut down visitor numbers for the first time to protect its rock formations). “Climate change is very real and very clear,” says De Mahieu; It was “quite natural” that their work responded to these concerns.

He does not consider himself exempt from the culture depicted in his photographs. De Mahieu loves to travel and admits he spends a lot of time on social media; Even in his own photos, he feels the pervasive influence of the Instagram aesthetic (soft pastels, a regular composition that fits the default square shape – “I’m like this: no! I don’t want it!”). His photographs are a fun invitation to reflect rather than stand in judgment: what we look for when we leave home; It seems like how our daily decisions are influenced by the lure of a beautiful sight and why, in a culture that values ​​individuality, we all crave that frame in the best summer, when we stand in front of a small wooden house by the lake surrounded by an enclosure. mountains, trees, and open waters—and certainly no one else.

CappadociaTurkey, November 2019

Labeled 2.2m watches on Instagram (based on images tagged in location during broadcasting)

All photos: Natacha de Mahieu

“Every day at sunrise, hot air balloons filled with tourists fly over the mountain ridges of the Cappadocia region in central Turkey,” says Natacha de Mahieu. “Here, travelers take selfies, while a couple stage a proposal for a vintage car in front of a professional photographer. In this series, I wanted to play with the line between reality and fiction: are these photos ‘real’ or ‘fake’?”

Marseille CalanquesFrance, May 2021

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Marseille Calanques, France, May 2021

“The rocky limestone cliffs and emerald creeks of Calanques in the south of France attract more than 3 million visitors each year. Since the area is difficult to reach on foot, specially authorized boat tours are organized for tourists and pass each other’s awakenings.”

Lac Blanc, ChamonixFrance, August 2021

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Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France, August 2021

“Lac Blanc, which can be reached in a two-hour climb after a cable car ride to 1,877 meters, offers a magnificent view of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, at the eastern end of France. This collage consists of photos taken over an hour.”

Royal Bardenas desert, Spain, June 2021

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Bardenas Reales Desert, Spain, June 2021

Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert landscape in northern Spain. The Castildetierra rock formation pictured here is featured in many Instagram portraits. I included myself in this photo because the series is also a way to reflect on my own practice as a tourist and photographer.”

Verdon Gorge, France, July 2021

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Verdon Gorge, France, July 2021

“The Gorges du Verdon, in southeast France, is Europe’s largest river canyon and has become increasingly popular. I took this photo from a distance and high to refer to Romantic-era landscape paintings.”

Obersee, Germany, August 2021

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Obersee, Germany, August 2021

“The fisherman’s cottage by a lake used to be completely ordinary. Then came Instagram. This collage reflects the competition that arises when each of us tries to find the best spot for a selfie.”

Peneda-Gerês National park, Portugal, June 2021

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Peneda Gerês National Park, Portugal, June 2021

“This image inside Portugal’s only national park was captured remotely using a wireless connection between my camera and phone. I’ve found that if I stay close to my camera, tourists will politely step out of the frame. The only way I was able to compose this image was to put my camera on a tripod and walk away and press the shutter remotely.”

Pont d’Arc, Ardeche gorges, France, July 2021

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Pont d'Arc, Ardèche Gorges, France, July 2021

“This collage image of Pont d’Arc, a large natural bridge located in Ardèche in southeast France, was made from photographs taken over a period of 80 minutes at the highest point of the tourist season. The final result from 100 images took more than a week to complete. ”

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