Travelling is one of my favourite things to do. By this, I don't mean the actual travelling process usually spent cramped for what seems like an eternity in economy class (more of that here), but rather what comes thereafter. Exploring foreign places, meeting new people and taking photos of it all.
But within the latter lies the problem for me. You see, I usually have two main modes of operation: Work mode and... well, non-work mode I guess. Photography, even if done purely for my personal enjoyment, usually falls into work mode. Why? Because to take a photo that I am proud of requires a lot of effort and concentration, whilst most of whatever else I do in non-work mode, doesn't. I remember the first time I travelled to Australia to visit my family. I spent the greater portion of each day pointing my camera at things, taking photos, trying to get the best angle on each subject, making sure the light was just right. Then downloading the images at night and adjusting and retouching them until I was satisfied. Once my trip was over and I was back home, I looked at the images and was glad that I had a large collection of pictures to remember my trip abroad by.
Suddenly, the happiness faded and the true realization set in. It dawned on me that I had experienced most of my travels, with one eye closed, using the other to look through the rectangular viewfinder of my camera. I had travelled halfway across the world, but I was never really immersed in the full experience. Now, the only way I could try and relive the journey was by looking back at the digital images. Red, green and blue pixels on my monitor. Jpegs, destined to be kept on a hard drive in my cupboard. It certainly wasn't the same as actually being there. I felt robbed.
Fast forward several years and I find myself back in Australia. But this time, things are different. I still take my camera with, but this time, it's not glued to my face. I keep both eyes open and take a picture only on the odd occasion. If I miss a shot, so what? I may be in work mode, but the end client is me. And if I don't happen to get an image of absolutely everything, well that's ok too. It took me years, but I finally found my photographic zen. I finally found my balance down under...