Pictures take you places – Why it’s difficult to take beautiful photos in Malta

Posted on July 26, 2010


Since ex-English students seem to make up half of my face book friends, I tend to see a ridiculous amount of Malta photos, and I always find myself thinking the same thought. My country is so not photogenic. Attempts at taking pictures of the lovely bays and beaches almost always result in construction cranes or half finished, monumentally ugly concrete blocks of flats ruining the whole scene. On my trip to the St. Julians promenade during my latest trip to Malta, I had to try and dodge no less than 7 cranes in my attempt to take a beautiful picture of this spot I love, and I admit that I failed. I just couldn’t tilt or zoom my lense enough to magically remove them from the picture.

Your mind’s eye is a wonderful thing – while you’re there you don’t really seem to notice these hideous modern additions. You simply feel the gentle breeze blowing from the sea, see the happy people strolling back and forth along the pavement (as well as the occasional hot, shirtless man jogging) and the water itself, a stage for a million sun or star light reflections. The camera, however, is not so unforgiving.


If you’re a photograph junky like me, the trick is to not restrict yourself to the hyper-touristic spots along the coast and visit those places which are so old that even the usually highly utilitarian authorities of the Maltese islands can’t bring themselves to destroy them for the sake of modern development. Here you will find that you won’t be able to stop snapping pictures. In my case, I took a trip to a village very much close to my heart, Vittoriosa, in the Southern part of the Island. In this particular location, save for a modern luxury development which has nothing to do with the ancient limestone buildings surrounding it, everything is truely as it should be. There is no crane or concrete in site. Along this bit of island, limestone bastions built by the Knights of the order of St. John hug the coastline tightly and make for a wonderful background onto which to places that little boat whose shape you like so much.

When I look back at the pictures I tried taking in St. Julians, I am no longer sure what constitutes a good photo. Is a good picture one which shows the truth about a location, or one which is simply aesthetically pleasing? Is a picture with a traditional Maltese boat against a background of unfinished, half-painted apartments intriguing if not beautiful, because it speaks of the truth? I personally am not sure. What do you think?