Picture Vs Reality: Behind the “Picture Perfect” Travel Photo

With modern technology, there is not much left of the world that has not been discovered. Which can be both a blessing and a curse. I mean, who wouldn’t want to cross off iconic structures, such as the Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall of China, and Machu Picchu off their bucket list? Since 2012 when I began my travels abroad, I too (among millions of travelers) have made it my mission to see as many legendary wonders of the world as possible. I would be lying if I told you that I haven’t fallen victim to the quest for the perfect Instagram photo of the marvelous icon that I spent months saving my pennies to travel to. However, the more I travel, the more I realize that visiting these locations may not be as “magical” as the Instagram photos make it out to be.

With my travel buddies visiting the Great Wall of China

My first taste of this experience was during my excursion to The Great Wall of China. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredible to see it in person and have the opportunity to step foot on this ancient piece of architecture. However, I was in for a reality check with how many visitors were also there to relish this incredible site. Between the heavy smog and the thousands of tourists that were also there to climb the Great Wall, I quickly realized that climbing to the top is not as glamorous as the photos may make it to be.

Many of the fellow visitors were more interested in taking photos with Western tourists than the wall itself!

Sometimes crowds and environmental conditions can take away some of the “magic” behind these places. Especially now with social media making it easier for travelers to share and “brag” about their adventures at these noteworthy sites. Tourists are constantly in search of the “perfect photo” to capture and filter on Instagram and share on Facebook.  However, not only do crowds and (sometimes) rude tourists make it difficult to enjoy the scenery and the moment (as well as capture your own noteworthy picture), sometimes the weather can make it a challenge to actually see the site as well.

Machu Picchu was hardly in sight with all of the fog and rain that morning.

From the smog in Beijing to rain and fog at Machu Picchu, you might not always be able to predict perfect conditions of that day you visit. The day I went to Machu Picchu was the first rainy day I had experienced during the ten days I spent in Peru.

I had to wait a few hours for the fog to clear up before capturing this picture.

Not only did the weather make it a challenge to initially see Machu Picchu itself, it also made it difficult to hike up Machu Picchu mountain, with its steep trails and slippery slopes. When originally booking the extra excursion to hike this mountain, I was hoping to be able to capture some amazing summit photos and see Machu Picchu from a different angle. Unfortunately, while reaching the top of the mountain, it was nearly impossible to see beyond two feet from your face.

It was still worth capturing the moment and hard work of making it to the top!

However, depending on your attitude and perspective of the situation, you can still enjoy every moment of it, rain or shine, crowded or quiet. Who knows, you might just capture that unique picture of your experience. Just don’t be that rude tourist who is disrespectful to others in order to get the “Instagram worthy” photo.



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