A picture is worth a thousand words…I’ve probably heard those words themselves uttered more than a thousand times. In an age where cameras are embedded into our phones and social media reigns over the lives of the majority, there’s a new pressure on photography. “Good” photos are no longer reserved for the avid, trained photographers and their fancy DSLR cameras.
Traveling and taking photos are now ingrained. Museums that once had guards patrolling, waiting for their opportunity wave a finger and say “no photos of the art!” now have hashtags and Snapchat geolocations. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has a designated selfie-zone out to contain the visitors who wish to snap a quick picture with the iconic façade. There’s a #museumselfieday. [Please note: not all museums have made the change to welcome photography, be sure to know the policy before you start snapping away—and never, ever use flash. It causes damage and would make me sad.]
No longer is it necessary to sit around a coffee table flicking through scrapbook or photo album pages when telling stories about travel adventures. Instead, you can tell the story in line for Starbucks and pull up the accompanying photo faster than your drink is made. Photos, and the ability to take them, are constantly at our fingertips.
As a young traveler, I feel pressure to make picture-perfect memories. I am fortunate enough to have traveled quite a bit for my age and I am thankful for that every single day…and let’s be honest, a little heart broken too. I miss Florence, my study abroad city, more than I ever imagined was possible.
As a blogger, I feel pressure to only post Instagram-perfect memories. The photo that looks best next in my feed. The photo that has beautiful color composition. The sunset that should be a painting. The view from Capri that I could literally stare at all day and never fully comprehend as real-life natural beauty that I saw with my own two eyes.
Sometimes my favorite memories aren’t the times that I visited wonders of the world or the most famous museums or added another country to my list (Mexico, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Bahamas, Italy, Greece, Vatican, San Marino, Egypt, France, Spain, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands).
My favorite memory from Egypt isn’t seeing the pyramids or King Tut’s tomb or the Cairo Museum. My favorite memories are the time I got lost with my dad at night in Hurghada, Egypt when we decided to go for a walk to see a mosque that we thought was an easy walk from our hotel. The time that we spent the evening floating down the Nile on a felucca, cleaned up a beach, and then had a Nubian celebration for my birthday. The photos from both of those nights? Absolutely and utterly awful. Red eyes, strange glares, hair sticking up in weird places. My swimsuit not matching my outfit at all; posting that would be a cardinal sin for some of the fashion-forward bloggers I follow.
Sometimes, those arbitrary guidelines get in my way of posting at all…for no reason, might I add. I have plenty of beautiful photos that I am very proud of and you can expect to see more of those in 2019 too, as I comb through all my study abroad photos. I’m almostat the point that I can look at them without tearing up.
I really started thinking about photos, why we take them, and what they mean to us during my post-study abroad reflection class—a requirement at my university, where every student takes a leap outside of their normal environment with a cross-cultural, “Global Opportunities” experience. Most places would just call this study abroad, but what can I say? It’s a small, liberal arts school.
Having one of my favorite anthropology professors for the class was both a blessing and a curse. His interest in the anthropology behind tourism seeped into the class (which I welcomed with open arms, especially after having a biology professor for my pre-departure course.) I began to question the photos I took during my semester in Florence and the memories they represented. I wondered which photographs were truly the ones that mattered. If I could only keep a handful of them, which would I choose to save? Why?
This year, I’m making a vow to myself.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Any picture is worth a thousand words. Every picture is worth a thousand words.
One picture out of the many I take every single time I travel, and one thousand words about it.
This year, I will be sharing the pictures that are truly worth a thousand words. I’ll be sharing the photos that truly take a full thousand words to understand. I’ll be sharing snapshots that even after a thousand words might make you wonder how I could have possibly made a sane and conscious decision to post them. I’m posting the silly snapshots that often seemed like they wouldn’t mean anything in the moment, but in reality encapsulate the spirit of a minute, a day, an entire trip.
These pictures aren’t always pretty and posed. They might be framed awkwardly. It’s possible that the lighting will be uneven. Forgive me for that, because that’s the thing: they still have worth.
I’ll be posting one picture with one thousand words once a month, on the last Tuesday of the month for twelve months. 1:1000.
The best part? This is not going to be one of those empty-promise New Year’s resolutions. I already have some of my favorites picked out (no spoilers) and I’ve started writing about them too. The first blog comes out on January 29, with eleven more to follow.
Okay, maybe a little spoiler. The first post releases on “Plan for Vacation Day”. I’ll be sharing a photo from a trip that I could have without a single doubtdone a better job planning.
And yes, this is exactly 1,000 words…did you really expect anything less?