In today’s world where even the cheapest mobile phone includes a camera and everyone in the Western world has a mobile phone I met a man – Australian, well versed, well traveled – who didn’t own a camera. He was travelling for close to a year. He was climbing mountains, crossing rivers, diving into cities unknown. And had no photos to prove it.
Before the trip I had given quite some thought to what photographic equipment to bring. And most of what I said back then still holds true. However, when I wrote this in September 2011 I didn’t know one very important thing: traveling is not about pretty pictures. In fact for better or worse there are more than a few memorable moments of my trip that I have no pictures of. I have been in places for less than an hour and took a hundred photos; other places I stayed at for four, five days or more, and have maybe a dozen photos to show for. But I can close my eyes and smile at the feeling wherever I am.
Lets face it: no one will ever go through the 6.000+ photos I have uploaded to Flickr in one seating. The days of the old slide show at the end of a vacation are over. I can’t break more than ten months down to only fifty or even a hundred images. I will never transport the feeling of jumping the bridge at Victoria Falls, twice, to anyone who hasn’t done it. – Pictures are to supplement a story, gather some recognition for capturing a great shot or having been to an exotic place most of your friends and family will never dare to go to. They aren’t the story itself.
Of course my friend from Australia has some photos of him on the journey as his fellow travelers took pictures. Some have been uploaded to Facebook and his family and friends love them. But when traveling it’s important to sometimes take a step back and simply enjoy. Don’t worry about capturing the moment on film. Don’t worry about tomorrow. You’re here. Today. Now. And that no one else could have given to you, and no one else could ever take from you.