At Versailles


Photography is an integral part of any contemporary tourist's experience. It is well known that every modern tourist feels compelled to take their own pictures of an object or attraction, regardless of whether or not one is a particularly able photographer. Everyday, millions of photographs are taken at Versailles, most of which are vastly inferior to the postcards one could easily purchase for a small fee in the gift shop, and most of which will never be looked at after they are taken.

A parallel compulsion is the urge to take the pictures in a way that suggests that the other visitors don't exist. For example, by cleverly framing your shots one can make it appear that, by some miracle, one is alone in the Hall of Mirrors.

Generally, other tourists are deeply respectful of this activity. When one holds up a camera or phone with a suitable degree of purpose, your fellow visitors will try their best to stay out of your shot. It suggests that we have a kind of tacit reverence for this need to privatise the tourist experience, even though it is actually an overwhelmingly social one.

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