Friday, 31 October 2014

Travelling like a writer

Rebecca Birch,  whose work I like, wrote in her blog earlier this year of how a writer  may approach travel with a different attitude to normal human beings.  We have a habit of storing up experiences that may come in useful in our work.

Personally I find that my camera helps. The great boon of digital photography is practically to eliminate the marginal cost of your pictures. No more worrying whether you can justify the use of film.

So when I am wandering around I take a picture of anything that looks interesting, even if I don't know what it is, together with numerous landscape shots that will help me remember the setting. Then when I get home I do my research and find out what I have photographed. Usually between reference books and the internet I can find out. I find this also helps me to remember the next time I see something like it.

Even on a guided tour it will often prove difficult to take in everything that you are told, but
photographs will help you recall it. The best tour guides throw in all sorts of local colour: history, myth, prejudice, manner of speaking. All of these have their potential uses.

Not everything can be photographed. It may be a sound that characterises a place, sometimes a smell, sometimes a taste or a texture. But at least if you have documented one sensory impression it may help you to recall others.

My two example photographs above are both from Taormina, Sicily.  The first is a detail of the second.