Accepted paper:

Small Lenses, Bigger Pictures- Representing the Large on Instagram


Ana Clara Oliveira Santos Garner (City University of Hong Kong)

Paper short abstract:

Visual consumption has become one of the dominant ways in which societies intersect with their environments (Crawshaw & Urry, 1997). This paper looks at how people are representing large objects on Instagram to narrate their travels.

Paper long abstract:

The confluence of smartphones, high speed internet, and social media, make it possible for many people to share their travels online and this has had an impact on the ways in which we experience and interact with places. Some authors (Pan, Lee, & Tsai, 2014; Urry, 1990) have argued that tourism is fundamentally related to visual experiences and that changes in travelling practices could be related to the way people gaze at objects and places. This is why it is important to understand how this gaze is changing. One way of doing that is by exploring how people are adapting the travel photo album to the social media era. Many people use Instagram to narrate their trips via posts that are composed not only of images, but also of text, emoticons, hashtags, and geotags. Some large objects, such as iconic buildings and museums, often become representative of a place and the constant repetition of many people posting about it may influence the desire to visit and the perception of the place itself. Via ethnographic interviews and participant observation, this paper uncovers techniques that people use to capture and represent the large in the places they visit. These include: the use of the geotag search function for photo inspiration; employment of tools like selfie sticks; unusual camera angles and settings; collages; inclusion of titles; and other image editing. We will also discuss how others react to the posts, via comments, likes and shares.

panel P106
Tourist Art and Commodification