I normally don’t do these “tagging” posts, where someone starts up a thread, posts some series of things, then tags some people to do the same thing after them. For one thing, most of them just take up too much time and for another, I really don’t like blogging about what everyone else is blogging about.
This request was a little different. First, it came from two of my favorite bloggers, Randy and Beth (my interview with them) of Bears and Beans, and second it was instigated by one of the wonderful sponsors of the Ultimate Train Challenge and one that I continue to work with today, HostelBookers. The combination of those things on that side of the ledger got me off my butt to find seven photos that hopefully match what is requested in the questions.
I don’t think these are particularly any of my best photos, but I’m in a particularly melancholy mood today, so instead of just trying to show you my best work, I thought I’d try to show how photos can tell a story — even if their technical brilliance is lacking.
1. A photo that takes my breath away
Africa is the most amazing and interesting continent on the planet. In my eyes, there is simply not even a worthwhile discussion to be had on the topic.
The entire continent takes my breath away, and although I’ve not even remotely covered enough of it to say I have “done it,” I have seen enough to know it will always draw me. It is awe inspiring that there are still these massive animals there — animals that have very little reason to have survived evolution for this period of time, especially against the onslaught of humanity.
You regularly will just be riding in a bus or looking out your train window and see a herd of giraffe or elephants, though you might not even be in a national park. And the animals are just one part of the wonder — the people, the landscapes, and more. It is unlike any place on Earth.
2. A photo that makes me laugh or smile
I dare you not to smile. I dare you.
3. A photo that makes me dream
Right now, I dream of peace and quiet, with a good bottle of wine, a book, and no internet.
I’m not really looking for any sympathy out there — I am quite content that I am living life as I want to and enjoying it immensely — but right now, as I write this, I am feeling slightly overwhelmed.
I have taken on too many projects. One of those projects is currently sucking down three to five hours every day, in an effort to get a really great system set up that will benefit hundreds of my fellow travel bloggers. It is slowly sucking the life out of me and I can’t wait until we hit the finish line.
When I cross that line in a few weeks, I want a week on this beach. Cabo Polonio, Uruguay. No electricity. No internet. But they do have beer and wine. Right now, I spend eight to twelve hours a day in front of this computer, doing the various things I need to do in order to keep traveling.
I want a break — just for a little while.
4. A photo that makes me think
What were they thinking?
Seriously, what the hell were they thinking? The most impressive and lasting memory I have of Manchupicchu, which I firmly believe should be on every traveler’s list of places to see in their lifetime, was…. what the hell was going through their minds when they said, “yep, let’s build a city of stone, up there.”
5. A photo that makes my mouth water
I am not a food photographer. I have friends that take lovely food photos and I appreciate their work, but those photos don’t make me want to take my camera out. I could have posted a photo here of the spices in the Damascus souk, which is about as close as I get to food photography, but given what is going on in Syria right now, I try not to think too much of the pain that is happening in that wonderful place.
So instead, I will tell you what makes my mouth water — a really nice wine. I love good food as much as the next person, but it is far easier to find a good meal at a reasonable price than it is to find a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price, save for many parts of Europe.
6. A photo that tells a story
An honest day’s work.
7. A photo that I am most proud of
I am under no illusion that I am a great photographer. My skills are fine, and hopefully improving, but I am not going to ever get a National Geographic cover or other such plumb photo “get.” And frankly, that’s fine by me. It never really has been a goal and I’m happy that some people like my photos and find them a pleasing addition to me writing.
So why this photo for this question?
Its not a great photo. Hell, I didn’t even take it. Some random other hiker at the top of Kilimanjaro offered to take this photo of me and my amazing guide, Eyan, at the top of Africa.
I am most proud of this photo, of any that I own, because of what it represents. Climbing Kilimanjaro was the single best, and single most difficult, thing I have ever done in my life. I am actually shedding a tear right now thinking about it. I have not yet even been able to write about the experience, and I doubt I ever will on this website.
I have a tattoo to remember the experience and on some of those days when I drink alone, with the sun shining on my face as I listen to some of the music that I listened to on that hike up, I smile at the memory of it all.
So, that is the photo I am most proud of.
In my view, photos serve two distinct purposes. For those of you viewing my photos that weren’t with me when I took them, I hope they help give just a small glimpse into a place or a moment. In that respect they are wonderful tools.
But far more important, and selfishly, photos are my instant memory injectors. I can scroll up through any of these photos above, or the 50,000 or so I have taken in the last three years traveling, and vividly and viscerally remember every aspect of that moment.
Every single thing. I can remember who I was with. The weather. My mood. Where I stood. What I saw that wasn’t in the frame of the camera. The smell. Whether I was hungry or content. Everything.
So while I hope everyone enjoys my photos here and elsewhere, all I can say is that it is a lot more rewarding to get out there and take your own. Get on it. And report back to me. I can’t wait to see them.