Through photography I have been lucky enough to visit a great amount of cities and countries around the world.
Some of these travels are now reflected in images within a new Travel category on my website. I have chosen 12 locations from 6 different continents that all in some way have shaped and influenced how I see the world and myself. After more than a decade of extensive travel the biggest shift however is in realizing WHY I find it so intoxicating to travel, and why this can be found anywhere…
My travels often come up in conversation and a very common question is: What is your favorite place among the one ones you have visited? My answer has always been; the one I have not yet been to.
This however is beginning to change and I’ll share with you why.
What have enticed me so much about travelling, putting me on the road for 200 to 250 days out of the year, has been this intoxicating feeling of newness.
As I come to a new place the mind somehow quiets. There’s no thinking about what I should have done different in the past or what I need to do in the future. All the thoughts my mind is busying itself with are gone and the mind get’s in the flow of observing, seeing and getting to know. It settles into the present and engages fully in what happens in the moment. As it is all experienced for the first time I, like a kid, soak up all the new impressions.
The exhilarating feeling of seeing and experience something new awakens us and puts us in a sensation, or a rapture of being alive.
At least it does for me…
As this newness fades it does not take long before I again crave to travel and access this experience of appreciating anew. Of being in the moment, present, and soaking up all a new place has to offer.
This is a part of what the Buddhist calls “the wanting mind”. As soon as we have or understand something, the mind craves something new. It is at it’s worse when we over consume, but it also applies to my experience of travel.
I have realized that I don’t have to travel to find this intoxicating newness in a place. It exists everywhere and can be accessed everywhere. One just has to approach it from a “beginners mind”, as if the familiar is experienced for the first time.
My work has always been location driven and early on I chased new places to create what I thought would be better pictures. I have realized however that it was not the new location that was better; What it did was to put me in a better state to create.
Travel still excites me like a kid, but it has taught me a very valuable lesson; To approach the familiar in the same frame of mind. That my treasure is everywhere and that I just need to know where to look.
Years ago I saw an interview with Paolo Roversi, a photographic hero of mine. I’m paraphrasing here, but he in essence “pray each day for the divine to enter his studio and to allow him to create something special”. At the time I didn’t understand this for more than a simple saying; Today I think it one of the more valuable lessons I have learned. Unless I connect to the place or the person I try to photograph and am present in the process I will never fully allow myself to see it and to understand it.
So now I pause, I breathe, I say my own prayer and try to ground myself in the space I take pictures.
This process have made me a way better photographer. It also helped me realize that there is no “best” place.
All the places I have been have offered their own, very unique experiences, and I now know this full awareness I experienced while creating in a new location is with me all the time.
So, if you’re a young photographer reading this I would love to impart one small lesson. Go travel, see, absorb and be inspired, but do not let yourself fall in the trap I did starting out; Believing a different place or a better location is needed to make a better picture.
Look around you and the place you live in anew. Dig into your memories and find stories of growing up which you can retell in your images. Find what you love about the place and see it from a traveler’s perspective. See it as if for the very first time…
I hope this series of travel imagery, most of which are taken within the past 2 years, are just as much a refection of me as the places I photographed.
If so, then, maybe, my prayers have been heard…