Here's why you should make memories, not manufactured moments.
My first thought was “Great!” After all, who wants to remember crowds of selfie-stick wielding travelers when you can grab that classic shot? But the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea. You don't need editing programs to get great photos. And, in fact, you might be much happier with some not-so-great photos. Here’s why:
I’ll admit it – I wish I had an absolutely impeccable photo of the Eiffel Tower. But you know what? That shot has been taken a million times before by a million more talented photographers. And you can find that shot in every souvenir book. Why not use the crowds as a motivation to grab a new angle or focus in on the architectural details? Those are the special shots that no one thinks to get.
Why create false memories?
Yep, I get annoyed when a charming shot is ruined by a clueless tourist hiking the photobomb trail. But I also believe that travel is about having authentic experience and creating great memories. Instead of worrying about people, why not work with the crowds? Get a fun group shot with a bunch of strangers who may just be your new best friends? Reach out and offer to take a shot for someone struggling with their selfie stick. Ask permission from adults before grabbing a snap of their cute kids playing in the courtyard. Those are the real moments and memories of travel that will last a lifetime.
What’s our radical secret for capturing the Acropolis and the Louvre in tourist-free splendor? Showing up early and lingering until it’s late. That’s it! There are plenty of reasons to avoid seeing peak attractions during peak hours. Avoiding the heat, the lines, the crowds, and the pickpockets – that's reason enough for me to get out of bed a little early. And you won't be bothering anyone with your tripod or worrying about holding up a line as you change lenses. And these early and late experiences also enrich our photos and our travel experiences.
I was once the only person in Paris’ Musee D’Orsay. For about 15 unforgettable minutes, mine were the only footsteps that echoed down those legendary halls. I’ve also been part of a guided tour of the Louvre – one of the most popular attractions in the world – where I’ve seen no one else for several rooms in a row. And at Athens’ Acropolis, being early bird arrivals meant we could approach the structure and say hello to the stone masons doing the reconstructive work.
What happens if your schedule is tight and it's impossible to arrive early or stay late? Walk around the corner. While everyone else is clamoring for space, say, at the front of Westminster Abbey, the perfect shot is waiting for you just around the corner at their courtyard.
Travel isn't perfect, and your photos won't be perfect either. And that's a great thing! The fun, excitement, exhilaration, growth, learning, and lessons of travel aren't the result of flawless experiences. But if you focus more on experiencing the moment instead of manufacturing the memory, you might just discover your ideal trip after all.
We'd love to hear from you! Tell us about a time when you gladly left your camera behind.
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