What Remains Unseen in my Travel Photos


I am a pretty big advocate of taking pictures of everything. On some of my trips when I was younger, I didn’t want to be bothered with taking photos. I wanted to enjoy the moment and not be removed from it. The way I saw it, when you spend your time traveling looking through a camera, you are not even really seeing it because there was constantly a camera in front of your face and it took you out of the immediate moment. Although this can be true, unfortunately having this mindset before meant that almost all of my earlier travel experiences only exist now within my own head.


One of the lessons I learned pretty quickly during my first gap year was to be able to live and document the experience at the same time, and recognize the immense value in it. Throughout my travels I have stayed in some of the most unique places and I have beheld some of the most beautiful landscapes that look like professional shots like these for example. I am so thankful that I can look back over these photos and relive these moments, as well as to be able to share them with all of you.

But do you know what I remember the most fondly and what makes me laugh or feel nostalgic when I’m flipping through the thousands of pictures I took? It’s the personal moments of my travels that couldn’t possibly have come out of a tour guide book or shown up on a postcard. Those moments I remember the most are where if you try to explain to someone else the significance of a picture, they end up looking at you like you have lost your mind because you are laughing so hard, and then you both agree that you “just had to be there”. And those are the moments that I hold dear and are worth a whole lot more than the same 20 travel photos that everyone else takes. I want to take photos of those moments that no one has ever experienced except for me (and whoever I was with at the time).

Unfortunately, a lot of these memories and feelings can’t really be captured in a photo, so when you see pictures of some of the amazing people that I met along the way, you see only people, but I can remember the fun adventures that we had together. You see a picture of a beautiful meal, but I remember the way that it tasted. You see the picture of me before the bungee jump, but I remember the plunge. You can’t ever capture and convey these moments, because they are emotional and lived, but they are worth documenting, just for yourself.

Interestingly, some bloggers are known to travel without a camera – albeit this could be simply because they had a dead battery and no backup, which is exactly what happened Robert Earle Howells. Robert spoke about his accident-turned-marvel on a blog post in Classic Journeys:

“I went through a litany of self-condemnations and suffered a feeling of dread, as if all ensuing experiences would be taken away from me for lack of photographic evidence. [However] I quickly felt a sense of liberation, and not just from the weight of my camera and lenses. I was no longer constantly asking myself, Would this make a good photo? Would that make a good photo?” he said. “I found myself deeply fascinated with details big and small […] I mused on the meaning of glyphs carved in stone. I didn’t have to photograph fried ants to taste and remember them. I sat and stared at some astounding Mayan ceiling murals. With a camera, I’d have been content to shoot a few pictures of them and move on. Instead I let their stories and colors wash over me.”

Overall, those major tourist attractions are great, and after all they are part of the reason why you travelled there in the first place, but these completely unique moments are what really make your travel memorable and worthwhile.

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