Taking Pictures

Consider the advantages of travelling without a camera.

When I was much younger and poorer and a bit of a hippy I travelled light and some of those essentials we take for granted like changes of clothing and luggage big enough for shopping items and a camera, I didn’t own.

I remember discussing travelling without a camera with my son who said that he didn’t have one except on his phone. Almost everyone has one of those. 

If you love photography you can buy a decent SLR digital. Even some of the smaller pocket type cameras can be good enough for taking good pics. You’ll want one to suit the kind of pictures you want to take. I find that if a camera is digital it should have bluetooth so you don’t have to carry around all the cables a such and can simply upload your photos to the internet. Most smartphones will do this and if you are simply taking snap shots then it’s probably good enough for your needs. Most phones and cameras will take video as well.

Now getting back to my youth. I remember hitchhiking from Singapore all the way to Bangkok and it was my first trip outside of Australia and risky and I wouldn’t recommend it for safety sake.

The thing was not having camera. I later travelled around China without one. Now I look back and wish I had some pictures of that time. I simply have to rely on my memories of those days and wonderful carefree time of my youth. Fortunately a travel companion sent me photos from that time and I have enjoyed them and been reminded.

I have a drawer full of old photographs and never look at them anymore. I remember looking at all these old photos of places I went and the ones which brought back the memories were of the people I was with at the time.

Somehow it always gets back to the people you share the good times with. You can go to the most exotic places and the thing that stands out is the people you interacted with. It may not be even the ones you met but simply the people you saw doing their thing.

Now what I’m getting at is this. I travelled with a camera and it was simply another distraction. I have walked around places looking for the best photos to take. The ones which I’ll show my friends and look at one day but this doesn’t happen. Travel is much more than a visual experience. Photos are two dimensional. They are simply a visual representation of a place. If you don’t have experiences which you have memorised then looking at a photos evokes not much more than looking at a place you’ve never been.

Remember looking at your aunt or some relatives holiday snaps. You don’t mind looking at a few but then it’s of very little interest.

I’ve walked around in a place for days looking for the perfect shot. i’m concentrating on one sense only so I’ve tuned out everything else. Imagined what it would be like to not have hearing and no sense of smell. Your not even using your provisional vision because you are hunting for the perfect shot. If you are hunting for the perfect shot you may miss everything else on the side. Not only that, you aren’t very aware because you are concentrating on just that and looking at the world through a frame. Everything is visual so your memories are simply visual ones.

Try having a camera free day and see the difference. try not to look for visuals and use your peripheral vision as well. Take the time to connect with those around you and see what happens.

I remember being in Paris without a camera. I met so many friendly locals because I noticed them. I made eye contact and saw those around me and took the time to communicated. When I was looking for photos, I met no-one because I was too busy looking for the perfect shot.

A good strategy is to have a camera ready for those amazing things you may never see again but keep it put away. Leave it in your bag or pocket. If you are spending a few days or a week at a place and you want some snaps then spend a morning towards the end to go around and take some pictures. You may find that you won’t be interested because you’ve been there and realised that place is much more than a two dimensional photo.

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