Ha Long Bay, 2017

Dear friend,

One thing I’ve been wondering a lot is whether we should review our photos everyday (or not) when we are traveling.

Below are some personal reflections of my experiences shooting photography on the road:

What traveling means to me

Personally, when I am traveling or on the road, I don’t have the time or energy to review my photos everyday. When it comes to traveling and photography, I prefer to prioritize my traveling over my photography.

For me, traveling is a chance for me to talk, explore, and discover a city’s culture, history, and people. I cherish the people I meet along the way, being inspired by different forms of architecture, and also spending time with loved ones (I usually travel with Cindy or family).

I feel the problem of spending too much time to review your photos (at least when you’re traveling) is that you focus more on the photography; rather than the experience of traveling.

I also know for myself that when I review my photos every night, I stay up late at night, looking at my photos, selecting, and post-processing them — that it prevents me from getting sleep. I wake up exhausted the next day, which ruins my travels (and ability to take more photos).

Does the photo speak for itself?

The problem of reviewing your photos too quickly is that you are too emotionally attached to the experience, and you cannot judge the photo by itself. For example, let’s say you took a photo of a person, and had an amazing conversation with them, and had some good food afterwards. You remember the great encounter, but you don’t judge the photo by itself. You let your experience and the memory of the photo affect your judgement of the photo.

Now don’t get me wrong — often the experience is more important than the photo itself. But if your goal is to make good photos; you should judge your photos by itself. A photo should be able to stand on both its legs, without any outside support, narrative, story, or caption.

Wait until you get home before looking at your photos

I also know for myself that when I upload my photos too quickly (before letting them sit and marinate), I don’t have enough time to reflect, meditate, and be appreciate of the photo (or the memories attached to them). I feel that traveling should be this: fully-embrace the experience of traveling when you’re on the road (while taking photos along the way), and then going home (and using time at home to reflect on your life experiences, and your photos).

Therefore, I don’t think (at least when you’re traveling) you should review your photos everyday. Instead, wait and spend more time before you look at your photos.

Sure you can look at your photos on your LCD screen when you’re resting at a cafe. But don’t spend too much time each day, hunched over your laptop, and choosing and post-processing your photos, and rushing to find wifi hotspots to share your images on social media. Rather, enjoy your time and leisure while traveling. Enjoy that nice cup of coffee, your conversation with your loved ones, or the surroundings around you.

Why do you take photos while traveling?

What does traveling mean to you — taking photos, or something deeper about self-reflection, and self-growth, and self-learning? Always ponder this while you’re traveling on the road as a photographer.

Always,
Eric

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