We have many guests that travel alone aboard Aegean Odyssey and they each fill their time in varying ways. Sharon is one of those guests and she enjoys exploring with her trusted friend, a Canon 60D. Sharon’s story is one we enjoyed and one we think many others will also appreciate. Her love of photography was born by chance and this blog is a wonderful example of how a camera can do so much more than just capture beautiful pictures.
I assume others are like me: Before going on a trip like my recent Voyages to Antiquity cruise, I consider adjectives which accurately describe me. I consider the easy ones: mid-Westerner, retired professor, eager traveller. In 2010, I added a new descriptor – photographer.
I picked up my late husband’s Panasonic Lumix camera in 2010. Before his death in 2008, he had been the family photographer on our trips abroad and in the states, and I had never touched his camera. From that point, my life was transformed. Photography has been my companion ever since. In 2013, I purchased my own camera (a Canon 60D), and it has given me more than I ever imagined on 8 international trips (visiting 13 countries), and over 100 local trips, driving trips and cross-country travel. Its friendship has shed new light on travel – local, day trips, or far away. Instead of traveling alone, I now have my chum with me. Loneliness is no more. While journeying, I consider whether (then, how) an alluring view or image might be caught. Much like other kinds of temporary capture, while I am on “photo safaris,” getting the shot does not disturb what I am viewing. My trip to the Dalmatian Coast and Greece with Voyages to Antiquity gave me more opportunities than I could use to investigate color, shape, subject matter. In each setting, the photography friendly policies and variety of objects meant that I could wander, snap, and discover pieces that tantalized mind and memory.
On my Voyages to Antiquity excursion, my first group tour with my Canon, I was pleased to discover a natural affinity formed with other photographers. While we were on each day’s tour, we wordlessly suggested photo-worthy details to each other. At first, this was limited to those of us with cameras, but then we saw that individuals using their phones as cameras were following our leads. The silent kinship and appreciative nods sometimes led to discussions about the day’s photographs when back on the bus, or on the ship. It was enlightening to hear how other photographers assessed each day, to compare the different things that had grabbed our attention.
Landscapes were varied, and amazing. Time in various ports was perfect for wandering (as shown in the monochrome of the port of Pylos, Greece – a port Homer references in The Odyssey). Early morning visits to Murano and Burano enabled me to get images that portray the vibrancy of each place, without destruction of the scenes by harsh noon light. For me, best settings are those with sculptures (like Achillion Palace and the National Archaeology Museum in Athens): they elated me. The photographs I took of “Leda and the swan” at Achillion enabled me to use my camera to enter the mind of the sculptor, and know that I was in the presence of something exceptional. At the National Archaeology Museum, I slipped the bonds of the guide, and discovered treasures in solitude. The death mask image – thousands of years old – remains powerful.
Being alone, my return to my cabin each night (or hotel room on my travels), I sort and edit my photographs, creating a folder for each day’s best. Most of the photographers on board said that they wait until they get home to review their work. Probably they took advantage of evening activities on board. Perhaps that is one benefit of being a solo traveller, as I get to create my own rhythms.
A common question I get from my non-photographer friends is “What to do with all those photographs?” I have discovered three ways to enjoy my images. (1) Sending a few images daily is like “bringing” friends along with me on my trip. Images really are better than words, to share the power of a trip. (2) After I have my photos the way I want them, I create photography slide shows of different lengths, adding to it each night. I pluck out the very best for two shows — a “shorty” and a “whimsy” — to share with my friends back home. This process, like re-reading the menu of a fabulous meal, enables me to relive each day as I go, and to prepare for being a “personal traveller” for my stay-at-home friends, inviting them to experience places they will never get a chance to visit. (3) I select photos to graduate into print. Some become cards or gifts (of magnets or cups). The experience of transitioning my digital image into something I can send to others resonates for me as I reprise my trip anew.
The beauty of digital photography is its encouragement to try, without fear of costly failure. In the days of film, amateurs did not know what they were going to get until the envelope of prints was unsealed. The grading policy of film was harsh. With digital, we have immediate viewing of a photograph, and editing tools that range from the basics to more elaborate products that clean up mistakes, tease out colors, or even redefine the image into fantastic new photographic schemes. Does this mean that anyone can take an impressive photo? Does this level the playing field too much? What does it matter? If you are open to finding new binoculars for the world around you, and a mute friend who will both encourage and challenge you, pick up a camera.