In spite of this weighty challenge, I loved my job. Over the next few years as a reporter/photographer on my home town daily, I took shots of floods and fires and other carnage as well as calmer events--the first day of school, ribbon cuttings, Memorial Day traffic backed up on the surface streets as folks made their way home from the Indy 500 in the days before I-70 routed them around our town.
Handling that camera was the toughest part of the job. Photography’s a lot more fun now. I can hang a camera around my neck, grab an extra memory card about an inch square and a spare battery only slightly larger and go off confident I have all I need for a full day of snapping away.
Travel photography comes with its own unique challenges, however, and they have nothing to do with the characteristics of the equipment. To me, the most appealing photos aren’t shots of landmarks or treasures or even scenic vistas. They’re photos of people. Some photographers wait patiently until there are no people in the scene they want to shoot. I used to do that, too, but not being gifted with a large supply of patience, I gave it up, started shooting anyway, and discovered to my surprise that a scenic photo with people in it is far more interesting than one without.
Shooting a scene in which people are incidental is one thing; taking photos of strangers going about their daily lives is another endeavor altogether. It often feels intrusive. I’ve tried various solutions—taking shots from a distance using a long lens, seeking permission, or shooting away unless displeasure is expressed, for instance. There is no perfect solution; it’s one of those things I have to figure out one trip, one photo at a time.