Making friends along the way.
The other day I had a back channel email discussion with a Facebook friend (John) who occasionally reads this blog. The question was asked, when I use to travel for pictures, would I rather visit this country’s greatest locations, or get away somewhere by myself? I have discussed this subject before and the answer isn’t as cut and dry as it might seem.
In a perfect world my preference would be to visit remote locations that others don’t know about, that are as good as our spectacular national parks. It isn’t a perfect world.
If you’ve viewed my images long enough you will know that I have done both. I would not wanted to miss those spectacular places that are visited by people from every corner of the earth, but I surely would not have wanted to miss those special little places I found along the way either. It’s a good thing I never had to make a choice. We can often do both.
The national parks are my rich and famous friends. They are beautiful, and they can do a lot for me. They will do just as much for others. They like me, but they like everybody. When I visit them, they are always in a crowd. It’s hard to find some special time with a National Park.
Those (often unnamed) spots/friends I’ve found on the back roads of America, are a special breed. They are beautiful, although maybe not as much as my national park friends. They seem to like me extra special. I take time with them while others rush by, or never see them at all. They are always alone when I come to visit. I have them to myself and we have an intimate friendship. I never get lost in the crowd. They understand me better than my national park friends. They realize that I have a need to wander. I like to make new friends along the way. I make sure to treat then with the reverence they deserve. I have come a long way from the super highways and the crowds, just to be with them.
I’ve written many times (too many I know), that places become special to me. They have their own personality and mood. They live and breathe just as much as I do. I understand their mood, and they understand mine. Those special little places, that I have driven to, or hiked to, will always be the most important to me.
When you travel with your camera, don’t just go to where the superstars live. Go there for sure, but then move on. Find your own little places wherever they may be. Make them your personal friends. They will repay you a thousand fold.
I would never suggest you do just as I do. It’s personal for me and it should be for you. Find your own way, and make your own special friends on your journeys.
The pictures below are just a few friends I’ve made along the way. The images were made along back roads, on hiking trails, or just down the street. None were made in a crowd. Anyone desiring more information about the location or circumstances of these images, please feel free to comment or email me.
In later years I also began to shy away from crowded places for my wildlife photography. I avoided the NWR in the area and I stayed far away from locations where popular birds were found and had been reported on the local Birding network. I chose to find my own way, just as I did in the beginning. The animals I photographed may have been a bit more common, but my experience was truly that of the natural world rather than that of the city or a zoo.
Writer’s Cramp (taking an emotional journey)
I have been writing for public consumption, since the late 1990s. Anyone who has read even a couple of those writings, knows that I am clearly not a professional writer. I write the way I want to write, and say what I want to say. I may not be a great writer, but I write with emotion, whether that emotion is humor, sentimentalism, or anger. Many of you have participated in this journey, with some of you being with me for nine years or longer. I thank you very much, and I know there have been times when that journey has been frustrating.
The single hardest piece I have every written, was when I said goodbye to professional photography, and closed down my website. That was written on my website. I republished that article on this blog. Just recently I had an old friend (John again) remind of that writing. I will say, that there were tears in my eyes when I hit the publish button on that one. That is the only article I ever wrote, that I saved.
Writing with emotion is the ultimate double-edged sword. You will touch the hearts of some, while evoking vitriolic anger from others. Some will think you odd or stupid, but you will win the admiration of others. I believe it is all worth it. We come with both a brain and a heart for a reason. I think writing (like photography) is a great place to make use of both.
Thank you, Wayne