Eyes Wide Open: When The Travel And Photo Bug Conspire

My favorite book when I was a kid was the atlas. I would plan elaborate journeys through mountainous regions, follow the shipping news in The New York Times, and ogle the fascinating people and places in Life magazine while waiting for a haircut at the local barbershop. For me, getting there was the point and being there was the reward. I started my travel habit with bicycle trips with my pals, venturing farther from home each time, then discovered hitchhiking in my teen years and followed up with planes, trains, and automobiles as time went by. Then I got into carrying a camera along, and I knew that my previous travel experiences would never be the same. For me, as well as for so many others, the marriage of photography and travel forever changed how I related to both the journey and the destination.

I can honestly say that the camera has brought me to places I might never have visited, introduced me to people I might never have met, and preserved so many great memories of the experiences I've had. What I really like about travel photography, though, is how it skins my eyes. It's what practitioners of Zen might call the "slap of consciousness." Like everyone, my daily routine of travel to work and back engenders a certain sleepwalking, a getting through the day mentality that stifles awareness and shuts the creative eye.

Not so when I travel. Even when I go to major cities, where I notice people in the same stupor that I get into at times in my workaday world, and realize they are experiencing the same rigors of working for a living that I do, I travel with eyes wide open. I get fascinated by things like old doors and walls, how train tracks curve through old markets and even terminals and stations, where people queue up for their rides home.

I remember sitting in a class taught by Ruth Bernhardt where her first assignment was for students to photograph no more than 50 ft from their front door. She was trying to tell us that the world is filled with wonder, miracles that we fail to see because of the routines we follow. I got the point, but must confess that I usually forget this important lesson. But getting back on the road, even close by home, freshens my vision once again, with the camera being the vehicle for the visual ride. Just as attending a dance recital can open your eyes to everyday movement, and a musical concert gets the wax out of your ears to hear the sounds around you, becoming engaged in photography as you travel can be visual refreshment that hopefully stays with you when you return to the routines of your own life.

With all that in mind we are happy to present our annual Outdoor and Travel issue, that includes practical advice, some thoughtful essays, and a host of exciting photographs and tales. And speaking of travel, we invite you to join us on our Shutterbug Cruise this fall, which goes from Montreal to Boston via the St. Lawrence River and Maritime Provinces. Last year's cruise trip to Alaska was one of the best travel experiences I've had in years. Not only were there amazing photo ops and experiences, but the people we met were dedicated photographers whose warmth, involvement, and company were probably the best part of the trip. Check the ads for the cruise in this issue and consider joining us.

Our next issue is our report on the annual Photo Marketing Association Show, the major trade event for photography held in the US. We had a full team of reporters attending the show and we're looking forward to bringing you all the news, new products and tech developments that are revealed at this event. I admit that we have some advanced notice of products now, and some real surprises are in store. But to let you in on them now would spoil the fun, so be sure to check out our next issue to get our full, comprehensive reports. It's an issue you won't want to miss.