September 14, 2010

Traveling solo..

Doing a PhD often entails solo travel, be it for meetings, conferences or workshops. Worse, sometimes you're left to tour exotic locations all by yourself (especially if your husband can't make it with you). Even otherwise, I have come across a lot of people who aren't squeamish about traveling alone. But here's a common issue. When you travel alone, do you end up with more pictures of the place than of you with some of the sights/sounds out there? This question is along the lines of another discussion we had over a year ago on MindBlogging - if you could ever go to movie/restaurant alone.

To answer the question raised above, I am guessing...YES for a vast majority of people. Either that.. or awkwardly positioned self-shot pictures which end up having your face 3D upfront with vestiges of the monument you wanted to capture in the background. Even while traveling in groups, I've noticed that most people are not comfortable requesting a stranger to take a picture of the entire group. And thats often a combination of one of two reasons - they are afraid that they'd mind in that we're disturbing them or that the picture they end up taking is going to be sub-par. However I believe somethings better than nothing and you could always ask someone else to take a shot if you aren't entirely satisfied by it. Or you could travel alone, use a tripod and not be shy to smile wide at a camera positioned 10 feet away with the timer blinking for 10 seconds with the possibility that some jerk is going to run away with your equipment any second. Ok the last bit is a possibility, even if unlikely. 

So what is the solution? I know some people just don't mind not having enough pictures of them in a location and it matters to them only what they absorbed visually and felt while being there. But then again, I don't belong to the "some people" category. I love having my pictures taken in all the new places I visit with whatever needs to be captured in the picture. And so, I approach random touristy-looking strangers and make exchange offers with them. Their picture for mine? A never-fail barter system. Even if only a handful of shots are up to your own quality-control, at least you have them. And even if a bunch of people turn you down, you don't know them and are probably never going to run into them ever again. And for every person that refuses to take your picture (I am yet to find one), there are 10 or more that will. So the bottom line? Don't blame shyness or your own loneliness for the fact that you didn't get enough pictures to a place you visited (unless you really really didn't mind) and instead, get out there, speak the word or play the charades (if you are language-stricken) and get what you want - a picture of you.

PS: When you give a camera to someone to take your picture, please please let it be a point 'n' shoot. If it's a fancy SLR, unless the person you are giving it has had some experience, you have a guaranteed blur!


calibergemini said...

Okkkk on to my pet peeve! So time to rant! :P

You have captured so many things, that irk the heck off me! It doesn't matter if I am traveling alone or with P.
First we are more interested in capturing the location, with maybe 1 or couple of shots of us in a spot as both of us are quite camera shy!

Second, I do own an SLR so absolutely loathe anyone handling my baby! (my precious?? :D).
Third tripod is the way I use for composition since I inevitably carry it around, and I can compose to my perfection. No one is going to be that fast enough to run away with my camera and tripod, that I can run them down, since my camera bag will be with P, and trust me, if I have to run behind some1 who has my camera, I will be faster than Usain Bolt. (ok.. exaggeration).

But my biggest peeve, is some1 who approaches me when I am seriously composing my work, and seek me out (does my SLR draw attraction?) and ask for a picture! Worse, not many are nice like you to offer to take a picture of us back! Though I hate it, i mumble under my breath and do it. I guess I am going to start to learn to flat out say no! I am engrossed in my work for goodness sake!

Not to be stereotypical, but more often than not, I have encountered this with ppl from our country! Maybe because they feel they would be bit more comfortable with another Indian, I guess!

Thanks for letting me rant :D

Anantha said...

Totally agree with your "Give a stranger the Point and shoot". SLR's are not for taking a casual photos.

Jaya said...

Shiva-> Hahaha.. You had me in stitches through your entire comment. And following up on that chat I had with you yesterday is the new post on the blog. Hope I covered the bases on the basics of picture-requesting etiquette... you can rant away there too! Thanks for the entertaining comment n keep visiting!

Ananth-> Yes, we've confounded our share of strangers if we found someone to take a picture with the SLR. In that case we approach other SLR owners (specifically ones with large lenses whom we assume know what they're doing). On the other hand, I've now taken to tagging my trusty point 'n'shoot along to capture what I want while S fiddles with the SLR to get his special shots. That way I hand over the P'n'S to the strangers and we get a good deal of good shots from strangers. Win-win! Thanks for the comment n keep visiting!

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