I’m not one to promote Apple technology for the sake of it, but I do plan to take my iPad on all future travel photography trips. We all enjoy photographing local people on our travels – to ruminate over when we get home, to bore our friends with snaps and slideshows and even to write our blogs (!!) But how often do we consider the subjects of our shots – the people we “take” photographs of?
As I travel with my camera I appreciate more and more that the photograph must be a mutual exploration – a joy for the person being photographed as well as for the photographer. I’m not ruling out candid shots, they will always have their place in travel and documentary photography, but when you’re up close and personal – get up there … get close and personal! Engage with the people you meet – talk to them! Use signs and gestures if you have no common tongue and please, at a minimum, learn how to say hello, please and thank you …
What I learned from Kerryn on our recent trip to Tanzania is the power of sharing the pictures in situ. You can show people the back of the camera (never very satisfactory since it’s so small) but showing them some shots you take on the iPad (even shoot some for for them alone with your iPad – they won’t be as good as your SLR shots – but they’re not necessarily for you). Or if you are staying for a while, load the shots from camera to iPad and then share.
It’s a different experience for many people in less developed parts of the world. Most have access to mobiles – basic ones at best – and they may not access to have TV. An iPad and what it can do is a revelation. Kerryn videoed Doug singing and clapping with the kids in the Oltepesi boma and played it back to them .. to their absolute delight. It was replayed again and again and again … !
There was such joy for everyone in those moments. So go on … engage and share next time you travel with your camera …..
I printed 6×4 prints from my visit to Oltepesi in 2009 and set about making sure we matched as many people to their photo as we could …. or at least passed them onto a friend or family member. Three years is a long time in a small child’s life and there was much hilarity as the kids compared each others’ photos. Almost without exception the villagers were amused to see themselves in print. However one woman, whom I have to say I barely recognised from her photo, was a little distressed and without a shared language she tried to explain why.
She mimed tearing it up and pointing to her face, the covering her face with her hands … which I took it to mean that she didn’t like the image or was in some way offended. The sadder truth was that she was upset by how old and tired she looked in the photo, not through any sense of vanity; rather the reminder of the deprivation wrought by the drought of three years previously. I then noticed that almost all the women did look better this time – fuller of face, happier certainly and even a bit younger in some cases.
It’s maybe a cliche but a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, even if we don’t understand the language.
I’m longing for the warmth of the sun and the glorious light I found in Longido. I’m in a cosy wee Community Centre on the south coast of England, waiting for the rain to clear so I can explore.
Milford on Sea looks quaint; lots of coffee shops with extremely tempting cakes, eclectic charity shops, eateries (they look fab from outside but not tested yet) and very friendly people. Off-season in the UK is always a bit odd … there’s the uncertain transition between the influx of holidaymakers and the locals getting their village back! And the weather, given the time of year, is certainly uncertain!
I have a few images on my iPad from the visit to Longido, makes me feel warmer just looking at them. Another coffee please …..
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