When I was about 10 years old, I remember sitting down with my aunt as we looked through a family photo album of a recent vacation. She started chuckling as we turned the pages, and I asked what was so funny. Her comment: “You can tell all the pictures that your father took, because there aren’t any people in them!”
That thought has stuck with me as I’ve become an intrepid solo traveler and avid amateur photographer.
In order to break the boredom of landscape after landscape after rolling, flat landscape, I try to break up my vacation photos with the surprises, from the mundane to the magnificent.
One of the things that’s interesting about being a solo traveler is that you have a unique opportunity to observe other people without ignoring anyone else. Take my last day trip for example. I went to Sedona, Arizona, and spent some quality time at Cathedral Rock. I ended up taking about 300 photos in the time I was there, between my 35mm camera and my BlackBerry camera – and while there are the usual landscape photos that capture the things about the area that I loved, I also made an effort to take pictures of – well – other people - in an artistic way rather than in a "vacation photo group" way.
I took quite a few pictures of families having candid moments, other photographers going to great lengths to caputre the exact shot they want – and their patient travel partners stepping aside to wait while they crouched, leaned, and climbed to get the right angle. I rarely photograph people I don't know in ways that I capture their faces. I think of it as a way of artistically capturing a piece of everyday life.
Does it matter that I don’t know the name of the woman who dozed off against a tree while her travel partner scrambled around on a rock? No, because her face wasn’t the important part of the photo. The way that she reclined and how she placed her feet and the angle of her hat against her face – those were the things that were important to the photo and to my memory of Budda Beach.
When you’re traveling solo, you can also focus on the smallest things, rather than on the grandiose landscapes. On this trip, while I was photographing the small plants that had worked their way up through the crevices in the rocks, I noticed the little lizards that were skittering in between the cairns, and was able to capture them as they scurried across the rocks.
Look for details when you're traveling solo to photograph your trips in ways that are meaningful to you, and you'll find that your memories of the places you visit are made more vivid. So dust off that camera and capture the unusual wherever you go!