The Accidental Tourist; Bob Krist’s New Perspective On Travel Photography
"We jump off the plane in the middle of the afternoon and there are buses waiting to take us to the first sightseeing destination," travel photographer Bob Krist says. "Meanwhile, an unseen crew takes our luggage to the hotel. When we get back to the hotel in the late afternoon our luggage is in our rooms. We eat dinner. The next day is a full day on site. The following morning we get on the jet, take off and do it all over again. We're the Cultural Commando Delta Force."
Bob's rapid-fire delivery reflects the pace of the "Private Jet
Around the World" tour he made earlier this year with National Geographic
Expeditions, the travel arm of the National Geographic Society. Eighty people
took part, visiting 10 countries--Peru, Chile, Samoa, India, Tanzania,
Australia, Cambodia, Tibet, Egypt, and Morocco--in 23 days in a high-end,
highly-organized pursuit of knowledge and experience.
"Expeditions charters a 757 and follows a theme," Bob says. "Say, `Footsteps of Man,' where they'll visit 12 places where the first traces of mankind were found. They'll have speakers who are experts on the theme--an archeologist, a historian--and they usually include a photographer. On the 'round-the-world trip my job was to give three lectures on photography and help folks with their cameras." Documenting the event was voluntary. "I think I'm the first photographer who volunteered to shoot the thing and then make a slide show for the folks."
It was not a typical itinerary for Bob, who is more likely to spend 23 days
in one country when he's shooting an assignment. He participated in his
first expedition, "Crossroads of Humanity," last fall, and it was
a shock. "I had no idea of how little time I'd have in each location.
Usually when I'm on a job I spend a lot of time in one place, really getting
to know it, really digging into it. I was totally flummoxed by how fast things
were moving. And I was not used to being on a bus, being told when to go where."
Yet he signed on for the private jet expedition. "After the first trip I kind of got into the idea of it. I said to myself, what's better--having two days in Peru or no days in Peru? One day to see Easter Island or never seeing Easter Island? In the end I thought, this is a gift; take what you can and be happy with it."
While the other participants were learning about the world, Bob was learning
about being a tourist. "As a workshop teacher, it made me much more sympathetic
to the plight of the normal traveler. I see a lot of portfolios of people's
trips, and often I say, `Well, jeez, that's not a bad shot, but
you really should have taken it at sunrise.' And they say, `Well,
we were on a tour that was leaving....' So for my teaching experience
it gave me a new perspective on the way most folks have to travel and what the
real world is like for most tourists."