Most photographers, confronted with a question about whether it is better to take holiday snaps or artistic statements will puff on their pipe, pull on their beard, and frown. Then they will launch off into a serious talk about integrity and professional behaviour. It is a disconcerting thing to see, particularly when the photographer is a young female student at TAFE. Their beards are never that good and they cannot afford good tobacco.
They are also serious enough to be able to freeze a lemon.
Fortunately they forget all this nonsense when they go off on holiday themselves. Whether it is the effect of sun, sand, or four margaritas, they quickly lose their artistic bitterness and start to take pictures of Canal Rocks or selfies in the bathroom. The really wise ones don’t take any landscape shots at all – they buy them at the postcard stand in the nearest Australia Post shop and then have an exhibition of these when they get back home. As long as Steve Parrish doesn’t find out about it they are safe.
The best compromise between art, science, tourism, and really good mushroom gravy that I have found is the trick of going into a strange town and locating the pub. It is unlikely, in most Australian towns, to have a shop selling souvenirs, but can generally be relied upon for beer and a counter meal. During the consumption of this you can ask the barmaid or waiter where the best landscape pictures are in the town. Tip ’em and you’ll be likely to succeed. Then go out at dawn and dusk and shoot whatever it is…then back to the pub.
If your tourist destination has a big anything – galah, prawn, apple, or merino ram – take pictures of it as well. If it is beautiful you have art and if it is kitsch you have humour.