Send Summer scaffolding to the scaffold!

posted on 2nd of august, 2009

OK, so this is a rant which will have absolutely no affect whatsoever but I think I need to shout it out anyway. This will be like farting against a hurricane but I'm sure some of my fellow photographers will see my point - and have maybe even been in the same situation.

What is it with prime tourist destinations and scaffolding? Why do cities that market themselves as summer destinations in Europe insist on scaffolding nearly all their major national treasures during the summer holiday and not afterwards in the winter when mostly only the locals are around?

I get that the vast majority of tourists are not too concerned about having huge construction extravaganza plastered across their holiday snaps. Afterall, before I became passionately obsessed with stock photography, I wasn't particularly concerned how many cranes obscured my view of, say, Sagrada Familia.

But a recent midsummer photography trip to Barcelona, that Spanish gem on the Mediterranean, confirmed what I'd previously only suspected: the authorities aren't concerned how perfect their city looks to tourists as long as those selfsame tourists pour into the streets and splurge their dollars or pounds or euros on the visited city's economy.

Now, let me confess right off the bat that I know the polishing of national treasures shows a city is not down-and-out and even gives an indication as to its economic wellbeing. And I'm sensitive to the fact that nobody should dictate when a city decides to remodel its landmarks.

But let's face it: cities such as Barcelona make such a mint off tourists (and that's only the pickpockets!) that you'd think they'd want their city to look its best when the whole world pops in for its summer break.

Let's count the ways that that was not the case during my recent holiday. The following landmarks found their facades under heavy construction: Barcelona Cathedral, the National Palace (which is in front of the Magic Fountain, therefore this spectacle was also affected), the 'Venetian-style' campaniles on Montjuic, the largest and most photogenic building at Montserrat monastery, Casa Amattler, the baroque fountain in Parc de la Ciutedella, and the Gaudi 'gingerbread' houses in Parc Guell.

No facade photographs were possible during day or night, at least not ones you'd be able to sell on a stock site, and pray tell, if you can't take a decent shot of the facade of a landmark, why bother taking one at all. Hell, I could go to any construction site near my town and see less scaffolding than I saw on a square metre of the Barcelona Cathedral.

Many would argue that a good photographer sees such obstacles as challenges to be overcome, and goes about taking different photos from the usual tourist standards. This is true, and I certainly readjusted my schedule to do this. Others will say I should have been better prepared for this eventuality. I assumed being prepared meant studying professional images of photos of the places you are going to visit to see what angles, lighting etc will work. Evidently, I was wrong.

The result: I don't have worthy stock photos of the above highlights, and since I'm not Rockefeller and don't have money to travel everywhere on a whim (I saved up for this holiday for more than a year), I won't be going back to Barcelona in the foreseeable future. What a shame!

Rant over.

And just in case you are wondering: Barcelona is one of the most beautiful, vibrant, exciting, photogenic places I've visited. Even if most of it was under scaffolding...

Comments (2)

Posted by Ratmandude on August 08, 2009
It is just soul destroying that after a year of savings the end result was as you discovered.
I will be wary of this experience, before I go and do the same … Thankx 4 the heads up.

Next holiday … plan for a place that doesn't have all the places to "clean".

The way that I approach it"
Seems like the best thing when it comes to "stock photography" rather not to "expect" some good shots, and just concentrate on your holiday/event.

Always have a blast … and if the opportunity presents itself, then snap away …
That way, when the pics are taken they may also leave you a little surprised with the results, as you were way more relaxed when taking the shots.
Posted by Keki on August 02, 2009
Totally agree!! here in Malta it's madness too!! at least you got a good holiday though :)

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Photo credits: Icolorfulstone.

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