I love to travel. If money were no object, I’d travel as much as possible. There are very few places in the world I don’t want to see. And when I travel, I bring many camera options. I want to have variety and choice in what I use to shoot what I see on my adventures. Of course this often means I don’t make a choice, and I shoot the same scene with every camera in my arsenal, but that’s not what this post is about! Excitedly, I board the plane or hop in the car, dreaming of all the photographs I’m going to take during my travels.
Then, when I get home, I invariably realize I didn’t shoot a thing. Okay, that’s hyperbole. I do shoot when I travel, but I always shoot so much less than I expect. And, I always feel regret about all of the photographs I didn’t take. I’m keenly feeling this awareness right now as I reflect back on a recent trip to New York City. It was kind of a mini photo retreat as I spent the trip with Debra, a current Viewfinder, and Lindsey, an alum of Mortal Muses, and we also met up with current Muse, Christy (and got to meet her beautiful new babe!). We invited instant photographers to join us for a Polaroid photo-walk in Brooklyn, so we got to meet some new friends on the trip, too. It was awesome to spend a weekend with friends who are also photographers. And, you would think I’d find a photographic rhythm for the weekend and return home with a treasure trove of photographs. Yet, I didn’t.
While looking through my paltry sum of photographs that I shot over three days in vibrant, inspiring NYC, I got to thinking about the reasons why I don’t shoot when I’m traveling. I journaled about it one morning as I was feeling disappointed that I had so little to show of my trip. Here’s what I discovered about my roadblocks to shooting:
1. In general, I’m an under-shooter. I know many over-shooters, but I tend to take less photos overall. I think this has developed over time as I shoot more film. I think I’ve gotten a little stingy with the shots I take. I need to break this habit.
2. I’m totally out of practice. I’ve spent the last year immersed in 365 Impossible Self-Portraits, thus, primarily taking photos of myself every day. I’ve hardly shot any other type of photography in a full year, and I’m completely out of practice. My eye and “seeing photographs” again needs some attention.
3. I get overwhelmed, photographically, in a new place. This overwhelm is especially acute in an urban setting like New York City. I’m not use to the scale, the scope, the size of the city and I get a bit lost in how to shoot it. The enormity of the skyline, the height of the buildings, the pulse of the city…I want to capture it all but my uncertainty as to how best to do so leaves me not shooting.
4. Not “wearing” my camera is a problem. I realized that as we walked around the city, my cameras were nestled in my camera bag. So, every time I wanted to take a photo, I had to dig in my bag to get a camera out. I didn’t have a camera swinging from a strap around my neck, always at the ready. And this is a roadblock! Keeping the cameras tucked away means it’s kind of an ordeal to stop, pull out a camera, get it adjusted, etc. Having quick and easy access to a camera would certainly have enabled me to shoot more. Convenience is important.
5. I’m too social. I am an extreme extrovert and I love being with people. Meeting new people brings this out even more as I want to connect and chat it up with people I’ve just met. This is a serious roadblock to shooting. I realize that I get so caught up in talking and connecting with others, even on a photo-walk, that I don’t focus on taking photographs.
6. Being uncomfortable, temperature-wise or for any other reason (e.g., hungry, needing to use the facility, tired), gets in the way of shooting. Looking back on our weekend in NYC, I was cold most of the time. I felt chilled and windblown. I wanted to get where we were going, get inside, and warm up. If I’m uncomfortable and want to get inside, I’m definitely not taking my time, enjoying my surroundings, and taking photographs.
Understanding these roadblocks to shooting is very helpful. I feel more compassion for myself about the lack of shots I took on this trip, and I have stopped feeling so much regret and frustration. Moreover, I now am aware of how to make my next trip more productive and engaged photographically.
What about you? Do you have your own roadblocks to shooting?
Meghan of Life Refocused