Volte-face: Photographer turns his back on the world's most over-photographed sites

in Inspiration / Travel

On visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo in 2012, Oliver Curtis turned away and looked back in the direction he had come from. What he saw fascinated him so much that he has since made a point of turning his back on some of world's most photographed monuments and historic sites, looking at their counter-views and forgotten faces.

Taken over a period of four years, Volte-face is an invitation to turn around and see a new perspective of the over-photographed sites of the world – to send our gaze elsewhere and to favour the incidental over the monumental.

Oliver feels that despite the landmark not being present in the photograph, the images are still suffused with the aura of the construction. The camera lens effectively acts as a nodal point and, by giving the photograph the title of the unseen partner, this duality becomes a virtue.

Speaking about his first visit to Giza, Curtis said: "After walking around the base of the tomb I found myself looking back out in the direction I had arrived from, with the pyramid behind me. Intersecting the horizon under a veil of smog lay the city of Giza. Immediately in front of me and under my feet, the sand of the desert was adorned with an assortment of human detritus; litter, pieces of rusted metal, a large rubber washer and a torn hessian sack.

"Then, in the mid- distance I saw a newly constructed golf course, its fairways an intense green under the late morning sun. I found this visual sandwich of contrasting colour, texture and form intriguing not simply for the photograph it made but also because of the oddness of my position; standing at one of the great wonders of the world facing the ‘wrong’ way."

Now you can see Oliver's series of images at an upcoming exhibition at Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London – from Monday 19th September – Friday 14th October 2016. Or visit www.olivercurtisphotography.co.uk to find out more about Oliver.

Via direct submission | All images courtesy of Oliver Curtis

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., USA

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., USA

Reichstag, Berlin, Germany

Reichstag, Berlin, Germany

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Lenin's Tomb, Moscow, Russia

Lenin's Tomb, Moscow, Russia

Mao Mausoleum, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Mao Mausoleum, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris, France 12 of 30

Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris, France 12 of 30

Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan, Mexico

Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan, Mexico

Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, USA

Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, USA

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK

Great Wall of China, Mutianyu, China

Great Wall of China, Mutianyu, China

North Korean JSA, DMZ, Panmunjeon, Korea

North Korean JSA, DMZ, Panmunjeon, Korea

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Vatican

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Vatican

'Arbeit macht frei' Gates, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

'Arbeit macht frei' Gates, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

White House, Washington D.C., USA

White House, Washington D.C., USA

Buckingham Palace, London, UK

Buckingham Palace, London, UK

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

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