Writing, photography, and travel. They form some kind of holy triumvirate: a creative circle that feeds one into the other, full of opportunity and excitement.
When you’re fortunate to both write and take photos for a living, and are known to travel extensively, there can be an assumption that you travel so that you can take photos.
The truth, however, is a little different. I choose to travel for the sheer joy of the experience; for the pleasure of seeing new places, meeting new people, and trying new things. I don’t travel so that I can practise photography; I take photos because I travel. Every photo tells a story and my travel photography tells the stories of my trips. As a consequence, they document both the big and the small, the significant and the seemingly inconsequential. For it is so often those little things that can mean so much.
Without a doubt, I am proud of the photos that I have taken of Sydney Opera House by night, of the Leaning Tower of Pisa at dawn, and of Auckland’s Sky Tower from across the water. Each of them reminds me of something special: of Circular Quay by night, of the contrast between quiet early morning light and tourist overload at midday, of the fun of the sea. However, the photo of my father peeling a sanguinello in the secluded grove at the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily–a moment of calm and shade away from the blazing sun and bustling crowds–means just as much, if not more. I look at the photo and I can still feel the warmth of the sunlight filtering through the trees, taste the sweetness of the orange, and hear our laughter.
Photos serve as a memory-box, a means to step back in space and time to revisit the heave and crush of the market, the sound and smell of the harbour side, the taste of an ice cream enjoyed in the fading light. All of this was a part of your trip, a part of what made it wonderful and memorable. It wasn’t just about the monumental vistas and the famous landmarks. Pictures allow you to relive your emotions of joy, or wonder, of excitement, and even of misery again, too.
That final sentiment, the one comprising loneliness, dejection, vulnerability, or of disappointment and even fear, is just as important as the breath-taking views, the side-splitting anecdotes, and the mouth-watering meals. For it, too, forms a part of the experience, making the trip what it was and us who we are. Travel is nothing if not a learning and growing opportunity and this encompasses both the good and the bad. It might seem initially contrary to choose to document your travels to the extent of photographing the medication you were prescribed for severe food poisoning, but it’s a chapter of the story of your trip and shouldn’t be ignored. Maybe you don’t want to remember the delirium and the pain, but don’t forget what you learned of yourself in the process: your resolve and your resilience.
Travel, for all that it expands our horizons and presents us with the wonder that is the world, is a microcosm of life. There’s anticipation and boredom, fun and disappointment, laughter and tears. It’s a part of who we are and it all deserves to be captured. It’s not just about the monumental.
What stories are your next travel photos going to tell?