The Art of Travel
To many people traveling is simply the act of getting from point A to point B, and is used more often than not as a suffix for the word “business.” Around the holidays there is virtually non-stop discussion of “holiday travel,” and even when travel is considered apart from a business trip or special occasion, there is often far too much emphasis put on the destination. As someone who creates artistic travel photography, even trips to the most routine destinations can be turned into a defining experience; the secret? Enjoy the journey. “Vacation destinations” have come to dominate the travel plans of so many, and sadly the magic of the journey itself is often lost.
How You Get There
It is a common cliché to talk about valuing the journey over the destination, and unfortunately this fact has caused many people to disregard the advice all together. By no means does taking time to enjoy the journey mean that the destination will be any less satisfying, but simply that there is more to an experience than simply “arriving.” When shooting artistic travel photography, I am constantly reminded that the place I’m going does not represent the end-all be-all of photogenic moments; every step of the journey presents tremendous opportunities to capture something beautiful and unique, and it is very difficult to find yourself somewhere that doesn’t have a story to tell. Sometimes the most captivating stories and images are those that I’ve least expected.
Not only can you stumble across hidden gems by simply opening your eyes and engaging with your surroundings, but you more often than not can enrich your understanding of where you’re going as well. No destination is an island (pun only partially intended), and everywhere you go has a history that is intimately tied into the places around it. If I am attempting to use artistic travel photography to tell a story, it would be an incomplete one without including the places, people, and culture that surround my subject (be it a person, place, or otherwise). It takes finding the place of every piece to complete a puzzle, which is a good mentality to have when trying to form a full understanding and richer experience while traveling.
People, Places, and Things
Another advantage of traveling for artistic photography is that I am constantly looking for subjects to include in my work, be they people places or things. This is an advantage because it is another common mistake when traveling to focus on the places and things, and to give little attention to the people themselves. No matter how spectacular the place, nor how incredible the things located there, I have always found that it is the people themselves that truly make the journey worthwhile. In the end people are a product of their environments, and dynamic and interesting place more often than not produce people of the same cloth.
Truly memorable photography is created from truly memorable moments, and when traveling these often requires making a connection with the people you meet. These connections can pay greater dividends than just pictures, as it is connecting with people that can really turn a memorable trip into a defining experience. Pictures may say a thousand words, but that is no excuse to not share some words with the people you encounter along your journey.
Plan Journey’s, Not Itineraries
Whether you’re traveling for artistic photography, or simply for the joy of the experience, creating the framework of a journey is different than simply planning the itinerary of a trip. While not everyone is capable, or for that matter enjoys, the unstructured travel plans of the backpacker, injecting some amount of freedom and spontaneity into an experience can make all the difference. If you feel the need to know your accommodations are secure, perhaps forgo researching places to eat; let your feet, nose, and local advice guide you to a few meals.
Traveling with the goal of getting lost (at least to some degree), not only leads to more rewarding and artistic photos than a rigid schedule, but a richer experience all around. This advice is not only true when traveling far from home, but can be followed anytime and anywhere the mood strikes you. Instead of limiting yourself to the same vistas, restaurants, and weekend getaways that you always do, explore new horizons, establish connections, and discover that opportunities for adventure don’t reside only around the world, but around the corner as well.