Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Be a Tacky Tourist

If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Tacky Tourist Photos, you’re missing one of the funniest websites out there. We’ve all taken them (see mine here). (Don’t lie, I know you’ve taken them, too.)
Even the president poses for tacky tourist photos...this photo, from the site:

Darren Garnick is the curator of these silly travel photos from all over the world. On Wednesday, December 7, a month-long gallery exhibition of some of the best photos from the site kicks off at the Tewksbury, MA Public Library. As a side note, Darren has been making people laugh for a long time. I've known him for over 25 years--he made American History our junior year bearable and much funnier than it should have been.

In honor of Darren’s presentation and the Tacky Tourist gallery opening on Wednesday, he has graciously offered to answer a few questions for the blog.

K: First of all, thanks for being here, Darren. I love the idea of Tacky Tourist Photos. It's laugh-out-loud funny and clever. How did the idea for the website come about?

D:  Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved offbeat roadside attractions like obscure museums and the World's Largest Ball of Twine. I also love to see how different communities strive to market themselves and can't resist at least browsing at every souvenir stand. The rising popularity of "photo of the day" websites, some of which we credit in our "Cyber-Inspiration" sidebar, convinced me to get together with my friends Ilya Mirman and Peter Koziell and create a tribute to "tourists not ashamed of being tourists."  There's also an anti-snobbery aspect in play here. So many people who like to travel treat the word "tourist" like it is an insult. The reality is that no matter how much you try to blend in for an "authentic experience," you're still an outside observer.  May as well have fun doing it.

K: Words to live by! What’s your favorite picture or theme on the site?

D:  My favorite TTP submission of all time is called "Military Make-Believe," and I still cannot believe that special operations soldiers in Ecuador would just hand over their weapons to pretty American college students for a photo-op!

K: I guess a picture really is worth 1000 words! As a writer, I guess I can sort of relate to that--and now that I think of it, there must be a story there...Do you take tacky tourist photos everywhere you go?

D:  Absolutely. You don't need to be on vacation to take a Tacky Tourist Photo.  There are so many quirky places and things in our own communities that are worth documenting. Cell phone cameras mean that there are no more missed opportunities.

K: I know I take way more pictures now that I have a camera on my phone. I'll have to start looking for more Tacky opportunities! What tips do you have for anyone looking to start taking their own tacky tourist photos?

D:  The most important thing to keep in mind when taking a Tacky Tourist Photo is that people like to look at pictures of people more than things. So if you see a funny road sign or crazy souvenir, it's better to photograph it twice. Once by itself and once with you reacting to it.  The best photos on our Website come when there is someone interacting with the tourist environment -- so then we can vicariously experience the oddball moment with you!

One thing I'd like to add is that most people already have a treasure trove of Tacky Tourist Photos sitting in shoeboxes or the family vacation albums from the pre-digital era.  We love it when TTP fans raid their childhood archives and give these memories a new life.  Please check out our submission guidelines.


Thanks again Darren! As the website indicates, visitors on Wednesday (December 7, 2012) are encouraged to bring contributions from their childhood vacation albums and their latest creative cell phone pics for group discussion and possible inclusion in an offbeat coffee table book.

And also, bring your cameras for bonus “Tacky Tourist” photo-ops throughout the evening.  Can’t make it?  No worries: Check out our Submission Guidelines and be there in spirit!

This event is held in the Meeting Room at the Tewksbury Public Library.  Doors open at 6:15pm.  Talks begin at 6:30pm.  The room is handicap accessible.  Light refreshments will be provided.  A door prize will be awarded.  Pre-registration is strongly recommended.  Register by stopping by the Reference Desk; calling 978-640-4490 ext. 205; or by clicking “register” below.  Talk is FREE thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Tewksbury Public Library.


Laura Pauling said...

I'm sure I have a few of those kinds of pictures!

Kristine Asselin said...

I'm sure you do--I think we all do! Come to think of it, my Christmas card this year is a montage of tacky from Santa's Village this past September...

Darren said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kris -- Looking forward to seeing you at the Gallery Show!

Arlee Bird said...

I love this kind of stuff. When I was working on the road I used to try to see as many wacky (and cool) places as I could. I sure I have a few Tacky Tourist photos somewhere.

Tossing It Out