Sightseer Americanus – Tourism Throwback Revealed

American photographer Roger Minick was the first to coin the phrase Sightseer Americanus. This is in reference to the many people he became addicted to observing that would go to the many national parks. He would notice the type of clothing that they would wear, and how certain people would wear similar things, even if they were outdated. He noticed this because back in the 1980s when he was in an art class with the famous Ansell Adams at Yosemite, he noticed that people would rush through all of the people taking the class just to get a smiling picture of the landscape behind them. However, this had been done so many times, it wasn’t the landscape that was amazing to him anymore. It was the people that would journey from all over to come take that one picture. He was inspired by these classic snapshots, but he wanted to go deeper than that. Going beyond the clothing that they would wear, and the places that they would be, there was always going to be that unique and sometimes vulnerable expression.


Why He Was Obsessed With These Sightseers

From the clothing that they would wear, to the places they would go, these sightseers are a very specific breed of people. The reason that he noticed the clothing was that it was indicative of that decade, whenever he happened to see them. But what was the most interesting is the expressions of people, sometimes minutes after taking the photograph. These were the real people that were there. They could fit into the mold, look the part of the Sightseer Americanus, but beneath the exterior expressions, and the clothing that was so definable, there was something brewing underneath that motivated them to do this. Sometimes he could catch a glimpse of whatever that was that inspired them to travel thousands of miles to go to these unique places. Even more so, he wondered why it was so important to get that snapshot, perhaps going far beyond the simple need to document their travels. It seemed to be an obsession, and there were so many similarities between those that would do this, regardless of the decade, he began to study this phenomena. It was for this reason that he named these individuals Sightseer Americanus, a kind of categorization for people that obsessively needed to travel to remote locations to get that iconic snapshot.


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