I may not be one for organized tours, but I understand their popularity in many cities around the world. They offer an effortless way for unfamiliar tourists to see and capture the sites and learn the history of a certain location. Photographer Ross Paxton noticed one of these bus tours when he visited his hometown of Whitby, UK. As the bus load of tourists passed by the town’s landmark Abbey, as they reached for their cameras to snap pictures, he couldn’t help but notice there was something ironic at work. The past, present and future all seemed to collide into one moment. Intrigued by this idea, he has since ridden on dozens of bus tours scattered across the United Kingdom, for what would become his series, The General History of Timeless Landscapes.
Through this series, Paxton is interested in exploring how people relate to the past and how we measure our present based on history and objects surrounding us. For the last three years, he has documented 35 bus tours with his large format camera. Making sure to capture the passengers on the bus as it passed by a monument or relic significant to that particular historical location. Some tourists look utterly bored, while others have their eyes glued to their cameras. We find people of all ages, races and nationalities. Frozen in each photograph groups of passengers are situated somewhere between monuments of the past and the present.
All images © Ross Paxton