Once, I traveled to an amazing place with someone who spent nearly the entire two weeks with one eye shut and the other one pressed up against a camera viewfinder.
“Did you notice the velvet underbelly of the albatross?” I would ask.
“No,” she would say. “I was adjusting my shutter speed.”
I am a travel writer who captures part of the story with a camera. Ironically, I do my best work when I put my equipment away and take the time to absorb a country by listening to its natural melodies and watching daily life unfold. Sometimes, I come back home and wonder why didn’t I take more photos of this or that. But then, I will remember how I got sidetracked trading jokes or showing my camera’s images to a group of women praying in a courtyard. Those memories make me cut myself some slack.
It is easy to lose your direction when guided by a zealous desire to capture the perfect picture. A talented photography instructor/friend, Nevada Wier,
pointed this out during one of my first trips with her as I sat bemoaning missed shots as I drank beer in a Delhi bar. She reminded everyone to take the time to enjoy the travel as much as the photography.
Still, it’s so hard not to get wrapped up in shooting combat. Snap the picture. Get the shot. Crop him out. Even the language of photography shouts violence. In this digital age, you could easily launch a thousand images with machine-gun velocity without reloading anything, including yourself.
Here is the reality:
There will always be a better picture. Someone with a more photographic eye, better equipment or raw luck is going to outshoot you. What they canʼt crop out or Photoshop in, however, is your perspective.
This is how you see Hawaii. This is how you tell the story of your familyʼs week at the dude ranch. Your view of the world or even your own backyard is shaped by a million memories. It is why some people return from a European vacation with thousands of photographs of old buildings and town statues, and some people return with a few hundred photos of churches and people walking their dogs past crowded cafes.