Why do we take pictures while travelling?
Am I doing this for myself or is this really a way for me to obtain some form of instant gratification from my friends, family, followers, etc?
When I was younger, I took a short trip to France with my Grade 7 classmates. I remember my parents urging me to bring a camera with me, but me refusing to because I didn't "feel the need to take pictures." Of course once I landed in France I realized my mistake and just over a week later I returned home to Canada with an entire bag of disposable cameras and rolls of film. Ever since then I've always made sure to bring a camera with me wherever I travel. I've slowly upgraded to different digital cameras and more recently to my wonderful little DSLR. Over the years, I've also learned how to take better shots and with my photo editing software plus this new blog I can safely say that photography has become one of my biggest hobbies/passions.
Travel photography has always been a very "sexy" hobby or career and there are few things in life that are more inspiring that that once-in-a-lifetime shot that photographers strive to achieve. For years travel photography was left to the experts, with a majority of traveller's photos winding up hidden in various different albums at home, but with the advent of social media and websites like Facebook and Instagram taking over younger (and to an extend older) generations alike, everyone has become a "travel photographer."
Over the years I've met travellers who hate how mainstream travel photography has become, as well as travellers who don't particularly mind or are indifferent to the growing popularity of posting a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower (everyone has done that right?). I personally don't mind the influx of travel photos available to us today. Travelling is a wonderful experience and sharing these experiences is always fun and inspiring. If I ever need inspiration for anything travel related, all I have to do is log onto Instagram and I'm good to go!
Of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't a downside to this. This isn't something that has ever truly affected me, but there are few things that have the potential to annoy me more than people who travel and post photos just for the sake of "coolness" or popularity, For example, when I visited the Taj Mahal it was because I wanted to visit this stunning architectural masterpiece and learn about the history that accompanied it. Did I take pictures? Of course, but that was to make sure that I would always have something to remember that experience by.
But while I was walking around the grounds, everywhere I turned there was a person or group of tourists who were taking pictures and talking about how jealous everyone was going to be when they saw their pictures. Too many times I have travelled somewhere and come across tourists who are only travelling because that's what's going to make sure that they remain popular while other people are jealous of them. If you're visiting the Taj Mahal it should be because you want to for yourself and not because you want to be able to tell people that you went there or show people that you went there. If that's your sole purpose of travelling, then is it time to re-think your priorities when it comes to travelling?
Mini rant aside, at the end of the day who am I to judge why people travel? In reality this belief stems mostly from the fact that there are millions of people who would love to travel the world but will never have that opportunity. If we have the ability and are lucky enough to be able to travel then we shouldn't be taking that for granted. That being said, I've often wondered if the reality is that all of us have a little bit of both of those qualities in us when travelling.
It's clear that I see myself as the type of traveller who travels for the experience, but is it possible that I also travel for some sort of gratification? Looking back over the years, I would always be extremely excited to get back from a trip and post my photos onto Facebook so that my friends could comment and like my photos. Even now, I always look forward to posting my photos on Instagram during my different trips. Am I posting pictures for my friends and family or am I really doing it for myself? Is the only reason I'm posting pictures to try and get as many likes and comments as possible?
This is actually a question that I struggled with during and upon my return from my trip to India this past June. I've always loved photography but was it something that I was doing for the right reasons (at least my right reasons)? I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, which just so happened to coincide with me really taking my love of photography to the next level, learning to edit and creating a blog to showcase my favourite photos.
What did I realize through all of this? It's interesting that I've already written so many words for this post, because the answer to my question can actually be found in my first post. I wrote in my first post that I'm not writing this blog for anyone other than myself. I would love to share my experiences with people around the world, but at the end of the day this is something I'm doing for me and I realized that the same goes for my photography. I love photography and everything I do related to it is for me. But I also love sharing my experiences and if people are interested in seeing them then that's great as well. I could have thousands of people like one of my photos or I could have just one "like." Either one of those scenarios is perfectly fine with me and knowing that I believe that couldn't make me happier.
So what is photography's place in travel? I started this post believing that there could very well be an answer for that question. But the reality is that the "right" answer is that there is no specific place for photography in travel. What I mean is that everyone who partakes in travel photography does it for a different reason. Some of us do it for ourselves, some for others, some for gratification and some for financial reasons. And all of those reasons are perfectly fine. We all have different reasons for why we travel and why we document those travels with photos. As long as the reason you're doing either of those things is the right reason for you then you're doing it for the right reasons.