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?
It’s 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.