Tracking destination visual narratives: photographic compositions from longer stay tourists

Cristina Michelini, Brian King, Vincent Wing Sun Tung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The photographs that contemporary travellers disseminate quickly and effortlessly to a global online audience are a valuable resource for scholars and for practitioners seeking to shape destination image. They merit more in-depth understanding. However, viewers are detached from the process of producing photos for online dissemination, thereby limiting insights provided by examinations of what the photos were intended to represent. The current authors pursue deeper understanding by studying visual effects at ‘face value’, rather than interpreting intended meanings. The authors consider the visual effects of narratives that longer stay tourists to Hong Kong share on social networking sites, including content, colour, spatial organization and expressiveness elements. A longitudinal and non-representational research approach is adopted to address the disjuncture and separation between the photo production and reception processes. It is concluded that tourist photographs: a) form groupings around compositional elements; b) change in content and composition over the course of an extended visit and c) generate identifiable visual impacts, based on their compositions. Destination authorities can develop emotion-inducing visual compositions with online resonance by considering the aesthetics of tourist photographs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021


  • Compositional analysis
  • longitudinal study
  • online photography
  • social networking sites
  • tourism visual research
  • visual narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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