When I imagined my trip to Thailand, one of the things that excited me the most was the beautiful and unique photo opportunities it would present. I knew that it would present, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I am disappointed in is the volume and quality of my photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some great shots that I love; but I expected more from myself. So I’ve thought about why this situation, this contradiction, came about. And here’s one of the things I’ve come up with.

When traveling with friends, one is always trying to find a balance. Everyone doesn’t always get what they want and your companions may have different objectives and preferences then you have. So it may happen that the two of you are walking down the street and you see something you’d love to photograph or record. Your friend is powering through the streets in search of something cold to drink. You have choices.

You can go for a quick shot and hustle to keep up. You might shout out to her to hold on a second as you take a quick, but more thoughtful shot or two. You can leave it behind and let it haunt your nightmares for nights to come. Or you can say, I’ll meet up with you in the middle. You go ahead.

Particularly for those traveling with non-photographers, and what I mean by that is they aren’t constantly on the look out for good photographs, they just like to have a few nice shots to remember the experience and that’s well enough, it can be difficult to dedicate the time that you’d like to taking photographs, shooting videos or writing. And this is where prior communication comes in. You should, I should have, strived to make clear that documenting my trip is something that I take very seriously. Yes, it’s a hobby of mine, but one that I love. It’s important to let them know that you’ll probably be stopping often.

As a side note, there are many blog posts that have been written about the joys and benefits of solo travel. This is on of them.

One of the issues with saying, “Hang on a second so I can take this photo” is that you feel time on your shoulders. You feel someone waiting, and that can have an effect on the time you decide to spend in getting just the right angle or lighting or moment. Often travelers feel afraid to separate. In our case, none of us had phone service, so meeting up wasn’t the easiest of tasks. However, you’ll find that in many places that won’t be a problem. But if it is an issue, you can most often both start walking in the direction of each other and you’ll find one another.

Actually, on our final night in Thailand, the ladies wanted to get massages and I didn’t. So I took that opportunity to explore my surrounding solo. I took many videos (as I’d like to create some sort of compilation in the future), I stumbled onto a Bike Show (hundreds of motorcycles and scooters beeping horns and revving engines in a procession down the street, and I managed to get myself lost. Thankfully, there is food being sold on every corner!

So this may be unconventional, or maybe not, but I’m going to show you some of the photos that I rushed, looked back on later and kicked myself for. The ugly children should have some time in the sunlight too.

What is the focus here? I wanted to capture these really lovely flowers floating on the water, but I’m too far away, and there’s too much distraction in the shot. Nothing stands out.
What sort of angle do we have here? One where I’m walking by too quickly to stop and get the best one. I would’ve preferred something head on, maybe from down below. At the very least, the ability to zoom in on the beautiful lettering.
The Leaning Tower of Thailand. This structure is very old and full of detail. I wanted to capture the height and the detail which, for me, would take multiple shots. Instead I got this one which does neither the height nor detail any justice. Hell, the camera isn’t even straight.
I actually like this shot. I spent some time with this guy and by the time I was done, my friends had already wrapped up their tour of the temple and were ready to go. So I quickly walked through and left with them.


My lessons learned:

  1. Explain the importance of your documenting the trip to your travel companions.
  2. It’s better to let them wander than always having them wait for me. It’ll create less anxiety for them as well if there’s something else they’d rather be doing.
  3. It’s okay to take some time to be alone on your journey and explore a new city solo. You can always meet up in 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour or two.

Does anyone else have some advice they’d like to add to this? What have I missed? have you found yourself in this situation before? How’d you handle it?