The Tourist Trap
Project info

The Tourist Trap

A holiday abroad is a rare luxury for many, so ‘getting the most’ out of the experience is often of paramount importance. In Oleg Tolstoy’s latest series, The Tourist Trap, he documents the frenetic energy of modern tourists as they strive to make lasting memories.

While the lure of destinations like Paris has waned in recent years, in ‘safe’ Italy, tourism is at an all-time high. Over the course of two visits and ten days spent by Florence’s historic Cathedral, Oleg has created a striking set of visual paradoxes: portraits of strangers in an alien land that are somehow intimate and completely unguarded. “Everyone was so busy taking photos, listening to audio guides and gawping upwards that they barely registered my presence, even when I was just feet away” the photographer explains. “It was comical, but poignant. They’ve travelled across the world to be here, but in the act of obsessively making thousands of bits of postcard-perfect content to show to friends back home, they’re lost in their viewfinders and not really aware of their surroundings at all”.

A riot of hyper-saturated floral prints and melting makeup, The Tourist Trap can’t help but raise a smile in the viewer, yet there is more to the series than its gaudy facade: “Some of their expressions reminded me of catholic depictions of ecstasy” Oleg notes. “Like past pilgrims, these visitors to the cathedral are lost to a higher power, but in this case, it’s modern technology.”