THINKING OUT LOUD…
Travel has been one of the most rewarding takeaways that I’ve had from my job.
When I started my blog back in 2009, when I had no idea it was a blog, when there was no such thing as ‘blogger’ let alone Instagram, I never in my wildest dreams would have ever imagined that it would be my passport to the world.
I’m currently sitting in a lounge in Mumbai airport waiting to board a flight to Jaipur.
I was walking through the airport, well, being ‘escorted’ actually (VIP service always weirds me out a little) by the lovely Jet Airways ground staff, and I had to just take a second and remind myself ‘you’re in Mumbai right now. You’re in Mumbai, because you’re about to catch a flight to Jaipur’ it sounds a little like I’m crazy for having to remind myself of that, and I feel like only those who travel so frequently will understand why I had to repeat it, but sometimes it’s just so easy to forget how much of a privilege it is to have an opportunity to explore the world.
A few years ago, I was accepting almost every single press trip that came my way, hotel groups or airlines would get in touch so frequently to invite me to far away, magical lands that I just couldn’t say no to, and as long as Carrie (my PIC) was down, and the dates didn’t conflict, I was always saying yes. I think I topped 20 destinations in one year alone.
Although, it finally got to a point, where I felt as though I wasn’t soaking it all in due to the vast turnover of boarding passes. One day I was in Hanoi, dodging mopeds as I tried to cross the street and (literally) the next I was in JFK waiting in one of the longest passport control lines ever. I would forget about the sights and smells of Vietnam as quickly as I soaked up the skyscrapers and sushi in Manhattan.
I finally came to the conclusion that I was taking advantage of my experiences and piling them on top of one another so quickly was making them evaporate from my memory even faster. It also didn’t help that during my trips, as I was there to review the destinations, hotels or airlines, all my time was spent behind the lens or in front of it, either photographing or posing.
I would look back at my images and feel that everything looked a little fake because I had framed it to be perfect, and I struggled to rack up real memories. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some memorable moments, but they were far and few between all the picture taking.
I only realised this when, a friend of mine and fellow journalist, showed me a picture she took of me in Anguilla. It happened to be my 29th birthday during the trip, and we had gone to a beachside jerk shack to listen to live music and sip on rum punches. She took a picture of me. A single picture of me, I had the biggest smile on my face, messy hair, people all around me and it was the perfect capture of a perfect moment. But it was the farthest thing to what I would have posted on my Instagram. My excuses back then (3 years ago) would have been that there were probably too many people in the shot, ‘unnecessary’ things visible, my face looked weird, or whatever else it could have been to make it unworthy of posting.
I realised then that every single picture I had taken on that trip, was so far from this image, it was the opposite of this image, in fact. It was a moment I had set up, planted and strategised before shooting.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m saying I don’t enjoy planning beautiful shoots in beautiful locations wearing beautiful pieces, because I do, and I’d still for sure take advantage of having access to such locations to capture beautiful content for my channels and brand partners, but I don’t want that to be every single frame of my memory card. I just also want to start capturing real-life moments, and I felt as though I had forgotten how.
I have hundreds, maybe even thousands of images from my childhood. Actual physical film photographs that are the most perfectly captured frames of my sister and me as kids, our cousins, parents, family pets, travel, you name it. And each and every one of those images spark a feeling of something inside me because they’re so real.
I hit a wall and I just wanted to take a step back and reassess not just how I was experiencing my travels, but how I was documenting and sharing them. That, as well as a few other personal reasons, are why you haven’t seen much of my travels in the past twelve months. I’ve been travelling off my own accord over the past year, not really doing the whole ‘press trip’ experience, and instead, venturing off with zero expectations to share my travels and if I did feel the need to shoot, maybe I’d post, maybe I wouldn’t.
It felt liberating and definitely gave me a different experience during the trips, but I have to admit, I don’t think to avoid sharing my travels is the answer to this, instead, I want to document them in a different way.
I’ve made it to the flight, by the way, I’m sitting in a very comfy seat and I’ve just been snapping away at the fiery sunset over Mumbai. I’m so ready to soak up a brand new destination. It’s been such a long time since I’ve partaken in a press trip, especially one with Carrie, and I’m setting an affirmation for this one. I’ll share it with you. I want to experience India with my eyes first, lens later, I want to share the beauty of the cities with you, and if I happen to be in a couple of those pics, then so be it, but I’m not going to turn this into a stressful photo shoot. Although I know when I see a beautiful backdrop, a pose or two might come out and make the most of an ‘Insta-worthy’ location, (old habits die hard, right?) but, I promise to myself and to you, that I am going to capture moments that are real and imperfect in their own perfect way.
Bare with me, as I have no idea what to expect when it comes to this new approach, but I just wanted to let you in on what was happening in this head of mine. And by the way, thank you. Without your consistent support and love, I would not have one of the most precious gifts that life has to offer, and that’s to feel the beating heart of this beautiful planet through my own eyes and ears.