By Donna Erickson
Jet-lagged, a friend and I recently bumped into each other at the gym — she just back from France, and me from two weeks in Morocco. I asked her what her trip highlight was and without skipping a beat, she said, “The best was going to Normandy beaches where my dad landed with Allied forces almost 75 years ago on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was so meaningful for me to be where he was and to photograph the landscape.”
Then she added, “There was a non-highlight, too.” Eager to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre Museum in Paris, she walked into the spacious room only to observe throngs of people with their backs to the masterpiece taking selfies.
“A casual regard for the painting and its history, it was as though these tourists were simply checking off a bucket list of photo highlights, rather than being in the moment,” she said.
Unlike previous generations, when tourists would sling a camera around their neck and replace expensive film after only 20 photos were taken, today we pull a phone camera from our pockets and make an easy and free click or two or three. But what do these photos mean to us, and why are we taking them?
As I scroll through and edit my travel photos, my friend’s contrasting experiences in Normandy and at the Louvre got me thinking. What were my intentions when I took photos in the exotic land of Morocco, filled with bright colors, spices, dramatic landscapes and an interesting mix of cultures?
As your family heads out on summer travels, here some are thoughts on taking photos of people and places, both here and abroad:
Be in the moment. Don’t let an impulse to take a photo interfere with an opportunity to engage with people you meet and the place you are experiencing.
Discover the richness of everyday activities of another culture or place, but be aware of customs and respectful of your surroundings. Travel in a spirit of humility. Ask before taking a photo of someone. Respect a “no.”
If appropriate, show the subjects of your photos the pictures you have just taken of them. Plus, sharing a few family pictures you have on your phone is a personal way to engage with others.
On a practical note, phones may not run out of film, but the battery may need charging. Carry a portable charger to provide an extra power boost before you arrive at the “must take picture” scene. Enjoy editing and sharing your travel photo story with others back home.
Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit www.donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”
(c) 2019 Donna Erickson Distributed by King Features Synd.