In Fortnum and Mason’s yesterday, an Asian woman was standing still on the central staircase down to the basement, against the handrail. She was looking off into the distance, and above and below her, three people were taking pictures of her using their phones. After I’d passed – an event they had to stop for, as I blocked their views – one woman ran up, brushed the model’s hair, and then ran back down to take more photos.
I’ve seen this in Edinburgh, too – in the biting cold, an Asian woman in a sheer silk dress, posing on a stoop near our apartment as a friend takes a flurry of photos before the model runs back to the comfort of a long jacket; a group of women, in what appear to be traditional dresses and high heels, taking turns posing in tiny alleys, then re-doing their makeup before moving on. The dedication of Asian, and particularly Chinese, tourists to Instagrammable photographs is remarkable. It’s mostly an amateur business, though – camera phones rather than DSLRs, with the tourists wandering around blindly trying different places and poses to try to get a good shot.
I predict that within a year, enterprising photographers will have picked up on this. Tourists will start hiring photographers for extended photo shoots that will yield high-quality photos that can be posted on social media for friends and fans back home, instead of relying on friends with the latest iPhone or Samsung. Smart photographers will learn Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese to start marketing their services to new visitors, and have pre-planned routes to take them on to yield the best photos. Better yet, a single company will employ multiple photographers and have an arrangement with tour companies to provide several photographers per group, providing steady work for the photographers and lower rates for the tours. They can have freelance arrangements to allow photographers to dip in and out if more lucrative work comes in.
If nobody does this by 2019, we might have to move back to London for a bit.