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Landscape Photography and Tourism

By Ana Torres |

Photography: In the seventeenth century the landscape began to be considered as something beautiful, worthy of being immortalized in an image.


It is said that love is born in the eyes, and this belief happens to be a fact since travelers build their life’s experiences mostly by visualizing their surroundings and then, parting from that first approach, giving them a meaning.

The question about how we build our collective imagination has been asked from different points of view throughout time, but particularly from an artistic perspective. In that sense, we’d like to review the considerations written by the French historian, Georges Duby, who in his text Quelques notes pour une histoire de la sensibilité au paysage, published in 1991, established that a landscape should be understood as everything that surrounds us and that we can observe, but that apart from being a natural environment that can be geographically identifiable, it is an idea. This means that it’s a subjective construction that has passed through the filter of our eyes and is transported to our memory as a historic and aesthetic document that will become part of our cultural baggage.


A landscape depends on how it is observed and on the cultural heritage of each social group. Duby noted that even the word “landscape” has had different meanings since the sixteenth century. During that time, it was understood as an extension of land or field that could be used for agricultural purposes. Then, in the seventeenth century, the landscape began to be considered as something beautiful, not only useful, and in that sense, it was worth of being immortalized in an image. It was then that the word “landscape” was employed to designate a new painting genre. This went on until the nineteenth century, when European Romanticism was in vogue. During that period painters associated the landscape not only with a beautiful representation but also with the idea of bucolic life as opposed to life in a city. That was how the landscape practically became a modus vivendi, a way to be in this world.


By the twentieth century the landscape lost that quality that was close to divine and its meaning was transformed together with the growing metropolis around the world. Nature was no longer an independent and untamable element. It became accessible to man who at the same time became a landscape artist. Painters were transformed into landscape architects and, ever since then, this character that belongs to modern life is in charge of ensuring a harmonic coexistence between man and nature even in common spaces like homes, public and leisure areas, and touristic sites.

This way, if we pay attention, we will notice that, no matter where we are, physical and mental landscapes are always with us and serve as the main tools to help us understand and interact with our surroundings. From that we understand the reason why travelers have such passion for photography.