Every time we go on holiday there is the desperation to get the quintessential shot that will be different to everyone's photograph of the Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Mona Lisa, and the list goes on. Problem is, they all end up looking similar, unless you follow the style of photographer Oliver Curtis who has, literally, turned his back on the traditional view of the world's most famous tourist attractions and created a totally new set of images.
After visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo in 2012, Curtis decided to turn his back on the iconic structures and photograph what was behind him and he liked what he saw. Fascinated by the results, he then spent four years travelling the world and turning his back on the most photographed monuments in the world to capture the minutiae of life, from strangers milling about in the dust behind the Hollywood sign to the stream of memorabilia peddled near the Roman Colosseum.
In his forthcoming exhibition 'Volte-face' Curtis will present his images together, and succeeding in what most of us fail at and provide totally refreshing holiday photographs essentially. "I found this visual sandwich of contrasting colour, texture and form intriguing... because of the oddness of my position; standing at one of the great wonders of the world facing the 'wrong' way," Curtis said about his work.
Taken over a period of four years, Volte-face, which means to turn around in the opposite direction, is an invitation to see the over-photographed sites of the world from a new perspective. To see the simple in the extraordinary.
Whilst the likes of the Lincoln Memorial and Mexico's Pyramids of the Sun are awe-inspiring and breathtaking, Curtis' images are the opposite. Mundane is probably the best way to describe each scene, but the dichotomy between the traditional subject and his own work is startling and original. Of course, not everyone is going to want to Instagram a picture of the debris behind the Great Wall of China but they provide a wonderful alternative backdrop rich with insight.
Speaking about his first visit to Giza, Curtis remembers the moment that sparked his visual discovery: "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. 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."
Whilst it might not make all of us turn our back on The White House next time we are visiting, it is a welcome change to the ten million badly-taken snaps of the Mona Lisa and Vatican that normally clog up social media feeds.
Scroll down to see more of Oliver Curtis' Volte-face series:
Oliver Curtis' 'Volte-face' exhibition opens from Mon 19 September - Friday 14 October, 2016 at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR.