IT WAS ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S spartan yet powerful prose that sent me traveling around the world. I had to see Paris after reading A Moveable Feast. After reading A Farewell to Arms, I wanted to experience living in Italy, absorbing the culture by walking the medieval streets and drinking wine in the piazza. I wanted to run with the bulls in Spain after reading The Sun Also Rises.
Those books got me excited. I had to see those places. Reading about them was not enough.
On my subsequent trips, I tried to stay extended periods. The parachuting tourist is the bane of my existence. You can't experience the life of those places in a day or two.
When I travel, I am always very conscious that I smile constantly - walking down the boulevards, sitting in restaurants, climbing mountains, whatever. I can't help it. I'm a happy dude. I wear it on my sleeve. It gives me away as a tourist, for sure, but so does my relentless shooting of images.
The images are more than souvenirs, the way that I remember those places, those people or those moments in time. They are trophies that I show people later, telling them, "You have got to see this!"
To me, banning someone from taking pictures is counter-productive to a museum, private or public. The museum exists for a reason - for people to see, experience and learn from the collection.
Visits and the memories created are ephemeral. Images can last forever (or at least, a lifetime). Images can be shared (not that oral tales can't but it's not the same). Excitement can be generated by showing others what you have experienced.
Will the value of the museum decrease because images are shared by people? I don't think so. Does the institution lose possible revenue by allowing people to photograph their collection? No. Will random visitor's images wind up all over the web, without any control from the museum? Probably. But who cares? Life is not that serious.
I finished reading Hemingway's Across the River and Into the Trees while sitting in a square in Venice. I barely remember anything about the book except that it took place in Venice, and it was rather horrible. But thanks to the images I made while sitting in that piazza, I remember that moment like it was ten minutes ago.
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