Cameras and videos are empowerment tools. We think of them as our personal means of capturing moments in time to remember, savour, re-live and memorialize.
But the very art of clicking the button, that releases the shutter, that records the image, that releases the endorphins, that results in your slide presentation, is a subliminal statement of power.“I can capture this moment”.“I can control time by re-living the moment”.“I can exercise control over things that were once relegated to the gods”.
And so it goes with travel.We often discuss social media in the context of relationship-building but this is something in which our cameras have been engaging us since the first Daguerreotypes were produced in the 1840’s.
It may have been our relationship to ourselves through portraiture, and being able to ‘see ourselves’ in another medium, other than a mirror.Or it may have been our relationship to others in the sense that “here is my photo for you to remember me”.And certainly it was a way of converting oral history—which was a main modus for transferring knowledge in many societies and communities—into something tangible.
In illiterate societies, pictures were the main conduit for lessons on morality (take religious paintings of heaven and hell, for example) or remembrance, inventory, adoration, dreaming and celebration.
And now in 2014 we embrace and thrill to the explosion of the photo genre with Academy Award-winning selfies, hundreds of apps to adorn our cell phones and ipads, as well as software programs to show off our presentation skills.
Travel photos not only capture moments in time but also help to convey, graphically, what serendipity is all about.It’s the discovery of the pyramids all over again, but more important, it’s YOUR discovery of the pyramids.It’s your relationship to the first moment of ‘wow’.Previous writings or explorations are irrelevant.It’s all about you.It’s all about pride and accomplishment and boasting and feeling good.It matters not whether the photo is out of focus, off colour, crooked, cropped or heavily in need of photo-shopping.The medium is the message.The fact that you created the image is what’s important.
And guess what?
Tangible proof of your journey is a long lasting and subliminal call to action for you to travel again.Travellers look to collect more memories in order to accumulate more souvenirs in the true meaning of the word. Literally a ‘souvenir’ means ‘to come from below’ or ‘come to mind’; ‘to remember’ (‘Sou’ (under) & ‘Venire’(to come)).The ‘psycho’ (literally, ‘the mind’) part of the term ‘psycho-photography’, comes into play when you fully appreciate the mechanisms that cause you to lug around an apparatus (small or large) and click it to your heart’s content during your beloved vacation time. (Thank goodness for 64 gigabyte memory cards!)
For many travellers, the camera is the portal that leads them from one world –the world of routine existence:work, home, family—to the world of enchantment.
The camera is the passport, the magical incantation that opens caves and passages.The modern day story book tale of ‘Open Sesame’.The camera is the security blanket that comforts the introvert and many times transports the photographer into expressive extroversion.It allows access to places that were off limits. It allows the traveller to get up close and personal with architecture, sculpture, faces, emotions and events.
Consider the power of photographing a Michelangelo in no way that it’s been done before.And you can do it because it’s YOUR vision.It’s your interpretation of that marble fold or the glint in the eye.It’s what’s been called the Seven-Billion-People Syndrome.In 2014 the world population reached 7 billion.And now, there you are in the early morning, visiting the Bayon temple in Angkor Wat, before the crowds of tourists arrive.You enter a passageway and take a photo of a grouping of Apsaras—celestial nymphs—floating dreamily on a rock surface, where they have enchanted pilgrims since the 13th Century.They are perfectly framed by an ancient stone archway.And you are the only one there at that specific moment in time.Out of the 7 billion people on the planet, it’s all about you and your aloneness with the amazing scene.You are not only connecting with these mystical, mythical deities but you’ve captured that connection with that magical instrument called, the camera.
The power of having taken that photo envelopes your imagination and catapults you into ‘the travel mind’ whereby your travels and adventures are truly yours to cherish.
The challenge for your travel consultant—and Google—is to keep providing you with a never-ending list of “What else can I do”; “where else can I go”, “what else can I capture on memory card and own for myself’.
The next time you click a shutter or turn on the video or point your ipad at an intriguing scene, consider the power that your simple gesture yields.But also, from a travel consultant’s perspective, don’t underestimate the power of the camera in enchanting your clients to travel—and travel again.