Over the course of the last several weeks I have been thinking about how people document their travels. Obviously, people take lots of pictures, save brochures from stores and restaurants, save maps and itineraries from museums and play bills from theaters. Ride stubs from the train and subway passes are also a popular item. I have bags of all these things from different cities about the globe. They all are a great reminder of places you have been and times that you have had.
There is also, this. Not a blog, as this is a blog, but a written account of your travels. I know countless travelers that keep journals and diaries of their travels. I also know people that collect it all in blogs. I have used both. I have leather bound journals with tales of travel along the Nile, and the cloud forests of Costa Rica. I also have this blogs with its tales of recent exploits around the USA.
Personally, I don’t think that any one way of collecting memories is better than any other way. Whatever way that works for you, and lets you return to those memories, is the way to do it. I tend to, like most travelers out there I think, to use a couple of different methods. I think that it is safe to say, everyone carries a camera on vacation. I can’t think of anyone that I have run into during my travels who said, Na I don’t need a picture. I’ll just look at it for a while and that will be fine. They may be out there, but I haven’t run across them.
That being said, Lets shorten the focus of this blog post to talking about cameras. We could fill a whole blog post talking about each of the methods mentioned above, and maybe I will come back to travel journals and train stubs later on, but for now, let’s focus our lens on cameras and photographs.
I have always carried a camera. I like taking pictures. I take countless pictures with my phone that are strictly for my amusement. As with any technology, the equipment changes as the years go along. When I was in the Army, I carried a Kodiak 110 film camera. Later, while still overseas, I transitioned to a Kodak disk camera. (I really thought I was all-that for a while when I got the disk camera.) As the years progressed, I had a succession of disposable cameras and various film types. I remember when digital cameras first came out. They were huge. You have to put a 3.5 inch floppy disk in them to capture the picture on. They were not what I would consider a travelers camera. During this time, I stayed with film. Considering my dive camera was 35 millimeter film, it was an easy choice to make. Standard 35 millimeter cameras were cheap in those days.
Needless to say, I transitioned to digital, at some point, and never looked back. I think that, like most people on the planet, I have also transitioned to using my cellphone camera as much as anything else. It is just natural, I guess. I always have it on me. Why not just use the phone?
For my last bit of travelling, I carried several cameras. This was what led me to thinking about the question of storing memories. When I left to travel around America, I took a compact Sony digital camera with a 10X zoom, a Canon Digital SLR with anti-shack lens, a Go-Pro Hero 5, and my Apple iPhone 5s. Sadly, I can say with all humility that vast majority of the picture were taken with the Apple iPhone. Like I said before, it’s just there all the time. There were times where I used the big SLR for the pictures. It was when I wanted really good quality pictures. Outside on the Capital Mall, inside the Air and Space Museum, and other such places. I don’t think I use the compact Sony digital at all during the trip. It just road around in the truck with me. The Go-Pro was a new addition to my travel bag. I confess that I still haven’t figured out how to utilize it affectively. I’m sure that will change as time goes on. For now, it was relegated to driving video from the dash mount in the truck. The camera phone did the bulk of the heavy lifting, camera-wise. It takes a high enough quality picture that you can print it on camera stock, and you can usually make enlargements. That’s pretty much all I’m chasing out of my travel pictures. I suppose that if I was in the professional travel photo business, I’d use higher end equipment.
As a side note, I also carried a selfie-stick for the iPhone. I never used it for pictures. Frankly, I kept forgetting it was in my bag, so it never got taken anywhere. Maybe, at some point, I’ll remember to take it along. Hopefully, that is before everyplace on the travel map bans there use. We’ll see.
When I was traveling with film cameras, I would find a good place and store all of my negatives. That way, I could go back and make additional copies of pictures or get pictures enlarged. I still have all the film negatives in a storage box, just in case. Now days, I also keep a CD-ROM copy of my digital pictures in the box with the negatives. That way I also have a backup of those. Let’s face it, hard drives crash and external drives fail. It’s just life.
That the way I do it. How do you do it? Do you take tons of picture or very few? Do you still use film or are you digital? Do you print pile of pictures and cover your walls with your travels (I do.) or are they all in photo albums? Needless to say, there is no right answer. Whatever way works for you is the best way to do it. Even if there are still a 1000 pictures on your phone from that cruise you took last year. It’s okay.
Take the pictures. Capture the moment. Do whatever you want with them later. Just, savor the memory.
Now, go. Get out there.
Yours truly, at the Gravity Bar, ST James’ Gate, Dublin. September of 2009. As you can tell, it was the pre selfie stick days. Yes, this too was an iPhone pic. Good beer, that Guinness.