At this point in my life, I’ve done my fair share of travels. I’ve done a bit of everything: worked as an archaeologist on my Spain holidays, studied Spanish on my Guatemala holidays, took a long stab at Russian in Kyrgyzstan and became a teacher for a while in Ukraine. My life has been blessed with experiences and memories that I hope to add to in the future, only now I’m finding that there was something else I should have been doing more of when I was on the road.
Actually, it’s almost depressing the amount to which I wish I had done things differently on the road. What, exactly? I simply didn’t take enough photos of things that mattered: people I met, places I went to, my meals, where I studied, where I taught, and most of all — me. I am seriously lacking the photo memories that prove I was even there.
The problem here stems from many issues. Traveling alone means you have to do your own photo shoots. Carrying a dSLR means that it’s not always convenient to whip out the giant piece of electronics. Hating being the focus of attention means I don’t typically enjoy posing for photos.
It’s stupid, right? Why should I even care what anyone else thinks? When I was traveling with Heather on the east coast Australia road trip, she constantly whipped out her big camera to photograph her meals. I, on the other hand, always have this strange sense of awkwardness come over me if I do something that would seem to draw attention. Most of the time, I probably stick out like a sore thumb already, so what’s an extra photo going to do.
Today, I met some travelers down at the Sydney Opera House. While I was waiting for them to arrive, I looked on at all of the happy tourists taking their happy snaps in front of this iconic building. A mother and daughter did one of those awesome jumping shots that make just about anyone look awesome and like they’re loving life; the little girl made me giggle with her extra hard attempt to make the same height as her mom. I bet they are going to love looking back at that photo.
I want that. I want the moments that make an experience special — not the landscapes and the scenery — but even the bed I slept in. What about that yurt I spent time in at Lake Issyk-Kul? What about the awesome guesthouse that I stumbled into after landing in Bishkek? I don’t have photos of those things, and I wish now more than ever that I did.
Maybe I take experiences for granted as they happen. I remember feeling like life was just life in Kyrgyzstan, and the amount of photos I took clearly reflects that. I was there for 5 months, yet I lack documentation of all the little things that I find myself raving about. Lagman! I didn’t even take a photo of my favorite food dish of lagman — one that I crave like no other from time to time.
One of my resolutions for the new year would be to rectify this issue, which is part of the reason I really want to strive for documenting my daily life in my awesome 2011. That’s part of the plan, and the other is to maybe reassess my camera situation. Right now, I have a dSLR that I hate to carry around and am not good enough to really use to its full capabilities. While I might always tell myself, “No, you want that for your African safari,” I really can’t say that will be in my near future. Perhaps investing in a quality point-and-shoot is the option for me at this juncture in my life.
For me, I’m totally wishing I had taken more photos on my adventures. What about you? Is there anything you think you should change on future travels?