Sunday, July 20, 2014

Photography and Road Trips

Do you travel to photograph or photograph as you travel?

I start out thinking that I pick our vacation destinations partly because they are beautiful places filled with lots of photographic opportunities. However, there are certain things you learn about yourself any time you set out on a big adventure. I learned these things last summer on our two week road trip to Montana. Our end goal was Glacier National Park, beautiful photo opportunities around every curve in the road.

My husband and I took almost a week of planned wandering to reach our end goal. We, translated into I, wanted to see some other National Parks along the way, places we had never been to before and may never get to again.


Our first major stop, after traveling across Michigan's very long Upper Peninsula, was Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. What a beautiful place, filled with historic old buildings and a volunteer park ranger who was willing to take the two of us on a personal tour of a historic fishery and tell us lovely historic tales about the family that lived there. Read the post I wrote on the Hokenson Fishery here.

After we left Apostle Islands we traveled along U.S. 2 which meanders west along the top of Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana.


So many sights of delight were spied through my car window, yet we could not stop at every one or it would take us all day just to get across Wisconsin, and we needed to be in central North Dakota by nightfall.

My husband was probably grumbling under his breath that we would get there so much faster if we dropped down to the Interstate where you could travel at a heart racing 80-85 mph. Instead we traveled along a two lane highway at a sedate 65 mph. The beauty of America is not found along the need for speed Interstates, but it can still be found in all its decaying glory along the unhurried scenic highways and back roads.


When we reached Montana and Glacier National Park all photographic joy had left me. Maybe it was having to pass by too many inspiring photographic sights along the way that left me unfilled and a bit depressed. Maybe it was the thought "What could I photography differently that hasn't already been photographed a million times." Most of all though it was the feeling of always being in a hurry. I was more than content to travel the park, and hike the trails with just my trusty iPhone, leaving my dslr in the car.


I did get a few shots here and there that make me happy, but for the most part Glacier was captured on an iPhone.


I learned a few things, well a lot of things, about myself and my photography on this trip.

  • I don't want to feel hurried when I am photographing.
  • I don't like shooting landscapes.
  • I prefer to shoot structures, give me a derelict shed or a rusty barb wire fence any day.
  • I shoot really well on historic tours, which you would think would be a hurried situation, but I like shooting while I am listening.
  • I need to speak up and have my husband pull over occasionally to fulfill that longing to photograph the decaying beauty of America's back roads.

So this brings me back to my initial question. Do you travel to photograph or photograph as you travel?

25 comments:

  1. It's good to recognize what you like photographing and what you don't! I love the old truck with the Montana number plate!
    I don't travel much, but I travel for travelling's sake and just tend to photograph on the way!

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  2. It's the hurried thing that gets to me too. It's just so hard to travel and photograph when there are non-photographers waiting on you. They get so annoyed and impatient and then I get flustered and lose my concentration.

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  3. Your list is perfect. I plan travel around things to see, which also translates to things to photograph. I love taking the 2 way highways instead of the huge Interstates as well, I think I only managed to get my husband to do that once though.

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  4. I too find myself passing up wondrous photo opportunities because I hat asking my husband to pull over so I can snap a photo. I photograph as I travel. I think of places I want to see or tour then plan our route by way of other touristy sites. Great question!

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  5. I travel to photograph. I was to see what I am traveling to but yes, take wonderful photo. Have you taken any new backroad adventures? How about seeing the largest ball of string, I heard about that recently.

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  6. Good question, I travel to photograph. I pick destinations where I will be inspired to take photo. Have you been able to do your backroads adventures recently?

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  7. My husband is a hurry up and get there kind of guy and becomes annoyed with me when I want to photograph something, so I travel better without him along. We are ying and yang for sure. Landscape shots? I've taken many and became bored with them some time ago... give me a rusty old car to click my lens at and I am a happy woman.

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  8. Both - thankfully, my hubby loves to photograph too. We plan our trips (mostly road trips) with a list of who and what we want to see...and photograph. We allow for time to check out things of interest we find along the way. That includes time to stop the car, turn around and go back to something that caught our interest.

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  9. I tend to travel to photograph mainly. I have a plan but occasionally these are changed at the last minute, however I do tend to make sure I am not with my husband as he rushes past things not thinking of the beauty he has just passed by.

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  10. I'm nodding my head at all 5 of your statements. Uh-huh. Yup. Totally.

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  11. I like to stop at anything I thing is photo worthy - my husband, not so much. He wants to get to the destination and I don't care how long it takes. I hope you loved Montana/Glacier Park. I like Western MT the best. Loved your post.

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  12. Photograph as I travel. No matter where I go, I can always find something that my camera likes! :-)
    Love your photos!

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  13. photograph as I travel...I've only been serious about photography in the last 5 years...but have been travelling for the last 40! And yes - the Apostle Islands are wonder...was there one summer...a memorable trip...

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  14. I definitely photograph as I travel - they become part of my memory and form the story of a place and a time.

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  15. I guess I do a little of both; ravel to photograph and photograph as I travel. I understand the disappointment of not being able to take pictures along the way as we travel! Mr. H would stop (with a groan of course), but I hate to ask!

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  16. Your points are well taken...especially the hurrying and the asking of husbands to stop more frequently...I'm getting better at that one and it's always good to know what you like...I'm not a landscape photographer either unless it's really dramatic to me...
    Travel though...It's in my blood...thanks for sharing your trip with us.

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  17. I photograph as I travel with my family and travel to photograph with my friend. I also feel rushed when I ask my husband to stop. He's good natured ( most of the time) about stopping, but I think it's me that creates that rushed feeling.
    Your trip looked wonderful and I think we would have ended up the same way, my husband wanting to go faster.
    I do love your first picture!

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  18. Mostly, I travel to places that excite me and find lots to photograph there. Sometimes, but less often, I plan in advance the types of shots or places I want to capture. For sure, I hate being hurried and my best times are when I wander off by myself....Great post Sarah -- and I'm crazy for that car shot.

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  19. It's all a learning process and finding your style. I good for you, finding yours! And you did get some great shots! I don't travel specifically to photograph, so I guess I photograph where I am. But - I don't usually carry my dslr when I am doing something active (cycling, hiking, kayaking, skiing) my point and shoot or iPhone get those tasks. Also, sometimes I find that there are things I just want to enjoy without worrying about catching it with my camera. I love landscapes, but have a lot to learn to improve my photography.

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  20. I think we do a bit of both, certainly when we decide on a day out or a few days away photography plays a large part in our planning. My iphone is a life saver when I don't feel well enough to hold my big camera and is great for spontaneous shots. I too have decided that landscape photography is not my favourite unless there is a strong focal point. Grunge pieces of industrial history, anything that can be focused on and enhanced. It's those little moments that have to be documented I'm so with you Sarah.

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  21. First of all, we have almost re-worked our family budget to include an iphone for me - and so I will join you in the ease of photography on the go. In the meantime, I think we do a little of both. I always take my camera with me wherever we go, and my husband has been very patient with my need to stop and take pictures. My favorite pictures are the ones you describe, the everyday scenes along the side of the road. Love that truck picture!!

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  22. Preferably photograph as I travel. I get too intense when I know I am going specifically to photograph, and overthink it all. For me, it is more exciting and fun to be surprised at a sight, landmark, interesting people, colors, or old car to be photographed, than plan a photo outing. I love the last picture of you and hubby...enjoying the moment.

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  23. Oh Sarah-this could be writing this!!! I love my husband to death-but I don't speak when I'm with him so I stop, look, and get into thinking about how I need...yes need to shoot something. That's why I prefer to shoot alone and oh I wish there were more local women's groups that take shooting trips together. Yes, this could have been me writing this. Xo

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  24. Ps-I use to pick my travel to photograph-now I photograph as I travel-to me it leaves more opportunity and not limit myself to what's out there.

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  25. I photograph as I travel, plus, I afford myself opportunities to take off on my own to photograph whatever I might find at the moment. I find the latter most pleasing . . .

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)