These days, the beach picture has become the go-to tactic of vacationing Instagrammers who continue to wish to induce envy among their followers long after they've returned from vacation. (Chrissy Teigen of all people is spearheading the fight against the post-vacation vacation 'Gram.) So it follows that the genre has pooled into a literal and metaphorical flex: torsos angled just so to the camera, yachts docked in the distance, an exotic geotag. But Massimo VitaliSlim Aarons, Joe Szabo, and Martin Parr—four acclaimed photographers who have strong opinions on the beach pic—are here to show us what the beach really looks like through their eyes. For some, like Vitali, who shoots his famous seaside pictures with a large-format camera from a seagull's-eye view, see the assembled, unmoving masses as symptoms of a calcified society and an ill leisure industry. Others, like, Szabo, are adept at capturing the blissful oblivion of beachgoers—including to his camera. (He also spent decades turning his lens up, at the lifeguards of Long Island's Jones Beach.) As for Parr, the beach looks to him like an uneasy mix of peacocks, the uncaring, and the exceedingly body-aware. And for Aarons, who survived WWII as an Army photographer, sometimes the good life is just that—as he once famously said of his postwar oeuvre, "I’ve concentrated on photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places." Nothing wrong with that, either.

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