During the 26 years my dad was in my life prior to his passing, my dad proffered a good amount of unsolicited advice as well as inspirational conversations that stuck with me for a lifetime. Some of these little treasures were deeper than others regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness types of stuff; others were not necessarily life altering, but still powerful and lasting nonetheless. One such topic of discussion arose just prior to his passing in 1995 when my son’s and my closest friends, actually “adopted family” as I call them, invited us over to hear about and see photos of their recent family trip to Italy.
My dad was eager to hear about their trip and live vicariously through their travels, as his health had for some time impeded his ability to travel where walking was involved, relegating him to only van accessible explorations close to home in Florida. As our friends shared their stories, experiences and photos with us, my dad mentioned how much better their trip photos were than ones he had taken in the past. When they asked why he thought their pictures were so special, my dad simply replied that they WERE special photos because our friends were in the photos along with the lovely background scenery; my dad noted that too often during his prior travels, he would snap photos of just a building or a scenic landscape without members of our family in the pictures.
Seeing our friends’ photos of the family enjoying the travels and each other’s company made my dad realize that, without people in the photos, he may as well have just purchased a smattering of generic postcards. While our friends’ photographs were not taken with the highest quality equipment or even necessarily consisting of the best technical composition, to this day, those photos inspire a sense of nostalgia and warm recollection of the experiences shared during those beautiful , irreplaceable moments together.
Since I do have an interest in photography, although I’m hardly a photographer, I’ve attempted to incorporate my dad’s observation into my photographic escapades and combine decent composition with personal touches to allow the photos to inspire fond memories of people and experiences to go along with the pretty setting. Architecture and landscapes oftentimes contain such beauty and detail that they warrant a photograph without anyone blocking the view, so in those instances (which in truth are frequent during my wanderings), I try to be sure to also snap additional shots with my friends or family – and even occasionally ask for someone to get behind my camera so I can be included in the photo as proof that I was present, too – to stamp that moment in time as an experience we shared, rather than just collect pretty pictures that you can find on Google images or some stock image database.
Both architectural / scenic travel photos along with those which include my son, other family members, and me that I’ve taken over the years (and ones that my son shot) adorn my home and populate my external hard drives and online photo albums. While the photographs of lovely objects and places remind me of travels past, the photos which are augmented by inclusion of loved ones inspire a feeling of wistful recollection unmatched by more impersonal shots, no matter how stunning the scene contained within may be. Love and warmth trumps sheer beauty in travel much the same way it does in an individual’s personhood. Nothing beats capturing the best of both worlds.