In the dim recesses of my mind there’s the memory of a Joan Collins made-for-TV movie that was every bit as bad as the proper noun promises. I’m judging the whole thing by the one scene I saw: it began with a classic establishing shot of the Eiffel Tower and then, helpfully, a caption faded in.
Yeah. I know.
Still — and here I’m gamely searching for something nice to say — it leaves absolutely no doubt as to where we are. In travel and tourist photography, that’s often pretty important.
Mind you, I’m not saying that Ansel Adams’ classic photos of Half Dome would have been better if he’d managed to frame it so that a “Welcome To Yellowstone…Please Dispose Of Litter Thoughtfully” trash barrel had been in the foreground somewhere. Heaven forfend.
But sometimes, it’s completely appropriate. It’s information that the viewer wants to have, whether it’s conveyed as explicitly as a street sign or as subtly as the type of bus in the background. Choose a slightly more thoughtful angle, and it’s no longer “a photo of two women having coffee at any coffeeshop anywhere in the world” but “…in London, somewhere in Soho.”
This delectable cut of beef had already been well-documented by the time I finally picked up my knife and prepared to dig in (like Ted Nugent, I believe that there’s a moral imperative to shooting everything you eat). When I spotted the name of the restaurant on the heel of the blade, I knew I’d be putting down the knife and picking up the camera again. It’s more information!