“would you still want to travel to that country if you could not take a camera with you. –a question of appropriation”
― Nayyirah Waheed, Salt
This is a quote that hit me hard. Nayyirah is one of my favorite authors and she writes a lot about what life has been like for her as a woman of color. Whether it has been for work or for pleasure, I’ve traveled a lot over the last few years. I realize how much of a privilege it is for me to have seen the places I have seen. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked, “Oh, you must be so excited and I bet you’re going to take a million photographs.” They are shocked when I tell them that I usually don’t even bring my camera. If I do, I want to make sure that I travel lightly, am very respectful of other cultures, and I treat the place as sacred.
I truly believe that all Americans (if able) should travel the world. The amount that I have learned from other cultures is astounding. The level of patience that other countries have had for me, when I couldn’t speak their language, was so much more than I see in our own country; the very one that is supposed to be a “melting pot”.
Travel, take those photos, and enjoy yourself. But, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Respect people’s beliefs. Don’t damage land or property for your own gain. Don’t photograph people who don’t want to be photographed. Don’t photograph people to embarrass them or look like a “savior”.
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The other reason I usually leave my camera is because I want to be present. So much of my life is spent behind my camera. There is nothing like watching the sunset over the Amalfi Coast without a bulky camera blocking my view. I also like being in the moment with whoever I’m with. I don’t need to document everything that happens in my life.
Below are some photos from my travels. I feel extremely lucky to have been to these places and even more lucky to see the things that aren’t pictured here, because I was in the moment.