I have a confession to make: I am a terrible photographer.
Not that you´d know, seeing as though I left my camera cord at home and all my posts from the road have been woefully without visual accompaniment. But despite the fact you can´t see any what fills my memory card, I have been making a concerted effort to take more photos on this trip. Photos enhance articles, and most publications dole out additional sums for good pictures. The only problem is, I suck.
It´s not just that I lack the technical ability to address lighting and angles and perspective. I´m a timid photographer, not intrepid enough to shove my camera lens in at the moments that would create good photos. I´ve come home from previous multiple-month sojourns with less than 200 pictures. But I actually love photography, and see plenty of good pictures all around me—it´s just that, by the time I´ve dug my camera out of my bag, turned it on and focused, the moment has passed. And I find I´ve wasted the moment not enjoying it, sucking it in, but instead trying to photograph it.
I´ve decided that, since I´m a much better writer than I am photographer, I´m going to take pictures with words. When I see an insanely beautiful or mesmorizing or unusual image, I study it, memorize it, savor it—then scribble as fast as my fingers will let me, trying to get it all down. It works—when I flip through my notebook, the scraps of phrases bring back everything my haphazard and poorly focused photos don´t.
But a good pictures is still a good picture, and I wistfully reflect on all the excellent moments in time that are only captured in my mind. So you can imagine my delight when one of my favorite travel forces, Matador, published a photo essay on Morocco today.
The photographer, Paul Sullivan, has a killer eye and enough credentials to make you cry. Most of the photos are from Marrakesh, where I spent my ill-fated last day; I think photo 10 of Djemaa El Fna totally captures the spirit of the food stalls.
I like this system, someone doing my dirty work for me without even knowing it. I fantasize about one day setting out on a trip with a photographer, tag-teaming some destination with a dynamic duo of artistic ability. Until I get a grant or find a glossy magazine still willing to send people out on stories old-school style, this will have to do.
(PS—If you´re licking your chops for more kick-ass travel photography, check out my homeboy Peter´s photo blog, stolen goods.)