Travel and Tourism


 

The Government Printer [E.A. Dyer],

Kuring-Gai Chase, N.S.W., c. 1900, details unknown,

photogravure reproduction in Australasian Photographic Review

12: 7 (22 December 1900), 'Supplement'.

 


 

One obvious use for 'record' photographs is to promote travel and tourism. In Australia this had become commonplace in the late nineteenth century. As Jack Cato notes in The Story of the Camera in Australia, by the 1880s, 'photographs became the chief medium of business advertising of State tourist campaigns to exploit the family vacation'. As a consequence of road building and the spread of the railways tourist destinations became much more accessible. The Railway Companies hung large scenic photographs of beauty spots in their carriages to 'coax the city people into the country.' 1

 

A typical example is Kuring-Gai Chase, c. 1900, a picture taken on the Hawkesbury River at Pittwater. The Australasian Photographic Review, where it was reproduced, thought that 'this extensive and most beautiful public reserve . . . surely is the Killarney of the Southern Hemisphere'. 2 A caption on the print 'on track from Berowra platform' is an unmistakeable link to the railway.

 

There are many similar 'picturesque views' to be found in Australia. The best known are, perhaps, by Charles H. Kerry in Sydney who specialised in photographs of the Australian Outback, 'and had done as much as a whole Government department to advertise Australia through the camera'. Less seems to be known about the use of photographs in tourist pamphlets or brochures. I have come across two Australian instances so far, one a booklet and the other a pamphlet, both dating from the first years of the twentieth century. Each was issued to promote a particular district, was illustrated by well known 'serious' photographers, and was accompanied by fairly extensive text. A feature was that the writing was mainly descriptive, although not solely concerning the accompanying pictures. There was little attempt to combine an account of any human or social values with praise for the beauty of the natural environment.

 

I wonder if this was symptomatic of tourist promotion at the time? Was the avoidance of historical context and human interest a characteristic of such productions in Europe and the U.S.A.?

 

I'm also not sure when tourist brochures illustrated by photographs, as opposed to railway carriage type posters, started to appear. This requires further study.

 

If you've come this far, thanks for visiting, and please contact me at francis.ebury@gmail.com

 

 

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