Tourist vs. traveler

JJWP245I had a laugh while reading this article 10 Differences Between Tourists and Travelers because more or less they are so true. Though I can’t validate item #9 on the list, I have to say I also drink but not to get drunk; it’s just to get a taste of the local beverage. Like when I was in Vietnam, I had to savor the local beer such as 333, Bia Saigon and Tiger Beer. Got to compare them with the Philippine’s very own San Miguel Beer. I’m biased but I’d still go for the distinctive taste of San Miguel. Anyway, back to our topic. Items # 2 and 4 in the list are photography related and I’d like to explore them further. Item #2 says a “tourist wants to see all the sights while a traveler wants to see some, but also to find something interesting that isn’t in the guidebook.” It’s the common complaint of people I’m with when I’m on travel – I wander off from the group, I go solo, astray and stroll along. That’s the instinct of photographers, they go the unbeaten path. If tourists flock on a certain area or follow a certain trail to take a shot of a scenery, a traveler photographer goes the other way. He finds vantage points, other angles, an unusual perspective. He is constantly on the lookout for something fresh, unique and interesting, outside and away from the normal point of view. Item #4 in the list says “a tourist takes photos of all the famous stuff. A traveler takes pictures of ordinary people and things and is rewarded by the locals with gratitude or puzzlement.” True again, and related to what I just mentioned. Photographers will shoot any ordinary, everyday subjects but will find ways to do it differently, far from the normal shot. I recall the words of a legendary photographer who said something like if he were with a group of photographers who were all huddled at one area taking a picture of a subject, that he would go to the other side. The bottomline: you can spot a tourist from a traveler by how he shoots. A tourist will take pictures casually, and just probably snap on. A traveler will stoop, crouch low, look around, eye the scene, scout the place, look up to see where the sun is and where the light falls. He is thinking, envisioning, establishing his shot. They may have the same DSLR or point and shoot cam, but they will have contrasting ways to take a shot. It’s easy to tell one from the other. (Photo location: Bird’s Beak Island in the middle of Tri An Lake, Vietnam)

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