7. Pretending to be “Into Photography”


This is one of the oldest backpacker beenous in the book. Give me a break. Yeah, you’re so “into photography.” I’ve got news for you: Everybody and their dog is into photography. Seriously, my buddy taught his German Shepherd how to take pictures - it’s very Littlest Hobo. Saying you’re into photography is like saying you’re into traveling, while surrounded by other travelers. Not very original.

I applaud Woody Allen for spoofing vacationers who fancy themselves vagabond Annie Leibovitzes. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Scarlett Johansson’s character, Cristina, is a confused artist and wannabe filmmaker who spends her time daydreaming and taking shots of children in the streets of Barcelona. She has no idea what she’s doing and it isn’t until she meets Penelope Cruz’s character, Maria Elena (who actually has an eye for photography and convinces her to ditch her digital SLR), that she starts taking decent pictures.

The overestimation of one’s own photographic prowess runs rampant in the backpacking community. Let’s be frank. You’re traveling. You, like most members of the species, are a visual being. You want to remember the fantastic scenes unfolding before your eyes. You bought an expensive camera on top of paying a fortune to get here, so damn right you’re gonna take a few pictures. That’s fine; so is everybody. We agree that photos are wonderful souvenirs. But don’t go telling me you’re so into photography.

I’ve seen the pictures you take. They’re brutal. You don’t even know how to use that grenade launcher you call a camera. Good for you. You’re struggling with your 30-lb. Lowe Alpine bag that’s a bitch to haul, but “is so worth it.” You talk about aperture, F-stop, depth of field and all that mumbo jumbo to people who  just want you to stop pretending you know what the hell you’re talking about.

Give me that thing (damn, it’s heavy). Which button? Oh, OK. Say cheese… I mean, “Say Facebook!” (Kill me now.) There you go, unforgettable good times captured forever. Yeah, I took a good shot, hey? Perfectly framed, two-thirds in. Did I mention I’m into photography?

Upcoming pretense posts to look out for:

  • Playing Guitar
  • Vegetarians
  • Pretending to be “Into Buddhism”
  • Pretending to be “Into Music”
  • Pretending to have lived somewhere but were actually just visiting
  • Rich kids pretending to be poor

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5 Responses to “7. Pretending to be “Into Photography””

  1. mike says:

    I take a million pictures cuz I can, but know I’m far from a photographer. I remember working with Kade in Taiwan for a couple days, and the shit him and another guy were talking about cameras was light years beyond anything we learned in Journalism school. He’s a real photographer. I’m an opportunist and obsessively proud father. But here in Korea it’s crazy how many people think they’re “in” to photos. Go to a national park or something and dudes are carrying fuckin’ bazookas and m-16 type cameras. Surface-to-air photos. These things look dangerous. I can’t imagine how much money they spend on their cameras and added on equipment, but it’s gotta be as much as a car. Then you got the younger ones who have decent sized, expensive, cameras, though not like the older dudes, and all they wanna take pictures of are flowers. It’s really annoying to see someone getting their lense an inch up to a flower, really intense like, snap a picture, and feel proud of themselves. Don’t they got zoom? How into flowers are these people? Anyways, I won’t comment on cell phone cameras, and snapping pictures of yourself on the subway and then obsessing over it and trying again. My wife makes me do that for her. I can’t be critical here.

  2. Liam says:

    Living here in Budapest I see this all the time among the expats. Buy an expensive camera and take it everywhere…sometimes even having a show at a friends shop. Your right about the grenade launcher :) But the question is, when do you actually become a photographer?

  3. Dave says:

    This post was great. There’s so much bullshit you have to wade through when meeting people while traveling, and you start to develop a criteria of what makes a person cool or not. Like you said, it’s fine to have/like/be into/etc something, just as long as it’s not contrived and you’re not using it as some form of beenou.

    I texted you this the other day, but since we were talking about your blog, it should be up for open discussion:

    I can’t stand the faux-artsys with their false sense of superiority because they think they have some kind of better understanding of the world than I do. I don’t care that you’ve read some piece about the merits of setting white balance and getting perfect exposures, and feel like I need to be enlightened on the subject (I have access to the internet too, you smug prick) — you’re not shooting for National Geographic either, so fuck off.

  4. Kim says:


    You’re so right, thanks for the laugh ;)

  5. Poon says:

    Shout out to Lil’Fel, who posted this helpful “photography tips” link to her travel blog:

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