I’ve been lurking on DearSusan for some time and have thus far restrained myself to an occasional comment or two. No more! Despite an abundance of Impostor Syndrome when waxing philosophical I’ll give it a go. I’ve been doing photography for a long time, once as a news photographer and then in pursuit of artistic glory. Neither amounted to much but it did lead me to packing my Gitzo #5 and 4×5 Sinar F (F for field – hmm…) through Yosemites’s backcountry in hopes of channeling the still-alive Mr. Adams. No one told me that he transported his gear on the backs of mules. Not fair!
I went from there into architectural photography and left that for the world of IT, the last refuge of the otherwise unemployable. And here I am, married, retired, with enough to eat, a place to live and a bit of money for travel. My library of archival scans and new files continues to grow as does my obsession with cataloguing it properly and ensuring it is safe from flood, fire, theft, police raids and technical faults.
A chat with a lady as we both photographed Silex Spring, one of Yellowstone Park’s endless series of always-ever-more-fantastic sights, gave me a bit of insight as to why I bother. I commented that it was depressing to have all these images end up on a hard disc, rarely seen and even more rarely admired by anyone but their creator. She had a good answer: we do it because it helps us really see. The photographic process focuses the mind and intensifies the visual experience.
I was satisfied with that but wanted a bit more so, prior to discovering the wonderful DearSusan, I barged ahead and set up my own blog, www.travelphotorepeat.com and I take modest pleasure in the ten or fifteen people that visit it each month. I’ve done my part and the rest of it’s up to the world. I never was one for marketing.
So, back to DearSusan. Many themes resonate. The tussle between obsessing over gear and sharpness and this and that or leaving it at ‘f8 and be there.’ The perennial theme of the long-suffering spousal companion as we photographers plod silently along, lost in our thoughts, often stopping, occasionally pointing and shooting and occasionally whipping out our credit card (as if surreptitious and whipping out can co-exist) for that aforementioned gear. Boy, DearSusan resonates!
Then there’s the patented DearSusan theme of the Undestination. Brilliant. Me and the missus often seem to end up at noted Destinations but it’s hard not to as most of the earth is now well-travelled. I console myself with two thoughts. First, the most touristic of destinations is often new to us. Not our fault that millions got there first. Second, of course, is the fourth dimension, time. Shoulder season travel (all we can afford!) and just-above-backpacker budgets ensure that we are generally not afflicted by the hordes. I’ve also found that a short walk off the beaten path can eliminate ninety percent of the mob and that the theme park atmosphere quickly dissipates. Even day-of-week (no cruise ships at Cozumel on Sundays) and time-of-day (get there early) can take the Disney out of many Destinations.
If that fails, I revel in past glory. China was not a Destination in 1982. There were simply no tourists. Nada. Good times. Now it’s an Undestination for other reasons which is to say I wouldn’t go there for all the tea in the world. Just like the US, currently embargoed by me and therefore an Undestination. Perhaps again, some day.
So, as I procrastinated adding to my own blog (did I mention it’s www.travelphotorepeat.com ?) I had the great pleasure of reading two recent DearSusan posts that got my sprockets turning.
First was Paul Perton’s post. “If you’re ever in Mexico proper…” he said and, as we are, it demanded a response. We are not, like Mr. Perton, in an “elegant suburb” of Mexico City but holed up in a concrete mildewed box of an AirBnB in a down-at-the-heels commercial district of the great tourist destination Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. Another take on Undestinationalism. The entire Yucatan is Cruise Ship Central but staying a half hour walk from the beaten path of 5th Avenida (we’re on 30th) means we are in another world, very local and very real. Paul described Mexico City as “a city of texture” with “blobs of colour, huge dynamic range…” Same here. It’s wonderful!
Second was Philberphoto’s “The way we shoot… (part Deux).” PMPM and GAS put acronyms (no spoilers, read the post!) and form to much that had been burbling around in my head. Thank you! It seems to me that travel feels much like GAS – a fast-acting drug that inspires bursts of photo-making.
So here we are. This collection is from a recent stroll around my neighbourhood, searching for walls and other interesting bits between six & seven in the evening. Nothing earthshaking but I like them and hope you do too.
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