Taking photos is about capturing memories and preserving moments in time, for me, for myself and for my work. The photos that tell stories on this little travel blog of ours aren’t mine. It’s Terence, the professional photographer in our partnership, who takes the beautiful pictures, and because I do more of the writing my images are made hastily, often with little thought.
My mission when I pick up a camera or increasingly an iPhone, whether it’s to take a ‘happy snap’ (what I call our personal travel photos) or a ‘memory shot’ (my name for my work pictures, for shots of meals, hotel rooms, signs, and the like) is to simply safeguard the image – the activity, the experience, whatever it is I’m seeing before my eyes – to create a reference point, so I don’t forget.
I don’t worry too much about the aesthetics and rarely concern myself about the technical side of things. Although I have to admit I did study some photography when I was young, before I studied film, but I think most of what I learnt is packed away in my Ultimo storage unit – along with our old clothes, travel mementoes, and photo albums. Remember those?
There are a couple of reasons I don’t care as much as I could or should. One reason is because I’m simply too busy. I’m pitching stories, coordinating trips, making plans, taking notes, and writing and blogging, and when the plans go wrong, which they often can, whether it’s because of bad weather, lack of time, transport strikes, or simply poor arrangements made in the first place, I’m busy doing it all over again.
The other explanation is that it all seems too hard – which is no doubt partly connected to the first reason. While I need to document everything we do, the last thing I want to be worried about is learning how to use a complicated camera. That explains partly why I increasingly use my iPhone instead of my camera, which tends to stay in my Samsonite most of the time.
I also don’t want anything big and bulky like Terence’s Nikons to lug about. I have enough crap to carry and most of the time I’ve got a notebook and phone in my hand. When it comes to taking pictures I want something compact – okay, let’s say small – something nice and tiny that can fit in the palm of my hand, be slipped into a pocket, or squeezed into a purse.
Of course what this means is that there are always regrets – blurry shots, out-of-focus images, important bits of the frame cut out, and pictures without the detail I wanted when I went to take the thing in the first place. And let’s face it, the regrets come partly because I do have a good eye – I was once a filmmaker in a former life – and I can take a pretty decent photo when I try.
So when Terence takes extraordinary images, like these pictures he took last year of Buddhist monks in Bangkok, and these too of monks in Luang Prabang, I’m always wishing I had a good little camera so I could have attempted to take some half-as-good images too.
Which is why I’m pretty excited about having been invited to enter Sony’s ‘No More Bad Photos’ competition and why I’m over the moon at having the opportunity to win their sexy little – and, yes, it’s miniscule! – new Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V camera.
Not only is it as compact as a high-quality camera is ever going to get, it has all sorts of nifty features like a whopping 18.2 mega-pixels, a 20x optical zoom – and up to 40x clear image zoom! – and, for the former filmmaker in this girl, a full HD movie-making ability! Plus, there’s also a GPS setting, which should come in super-handy for all the documentation I have to do for our travel writing work.
If only I would have had that little camera in my hands when we were in Bangkok for the mass alms-giving ceremony on Visakha Bucha Day last year, when I took the grainy picture above with my iPhone. Or even when I was watching the alms giving to the monks in Luang Prabang. Unfortunately I have no images to show you from that experience, as they were all bad, taken from far too far away, as I tried hard to keep my distance in an endeavour to demonstrate my respect and be discrete.
With the smart new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V camera I could have maintained that respectful distance that I believe is important to keep as a traveller – it’s not my role to interfere or get in the way of people practicing their religion, their rituals, and their culture. I could have captured images that had more power and more drama with the neat panorama tool. I could have ensured I didn’t miss a second of the experience with the incredibly high speed auto-focus. And most importantly, for me, I could have kept far away yet got close enough to create images that were sharp enough to preserve the sublime moments in time that inspire you as a traveller to get out and experience the world.
If I win this competition, Sony will give me the opportunity to go back and re-shoot a Buddhist alms-giving ceremony. And you can help me have that chance.
What do you have to do?
- Simply leave a comment below by Sunday 17th June letting me know how you think I could improve the photo above if I get the chance to take it again.
- Better yet, how might I use my new Sony Cyber-shot to take a better picture under the same circumstances?
- I have an incentive for you too… the best comment left below wins a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V camera. Check it out here! That’s right, I have two of them – one in each palm of my hand!
- This contest ends at midnight on 17 June 2012. It’s only open to Australian residents.
- NOTE: This competition has now closed and judging is currently underway. Good luck everyone!