Friday, February 4, 2022

Documenting Travel

People don't fully recognize the immense and versatile documentary power of a smart phone camera while on the go, especially while traveling.

Just pulled up to a restaurant, bar, shop, museum, park? Found a great coconut juice vendor on some beach? First thing, shoot a photo of your foot.

Or whatever. Doesn't matter. Just to record GPS data and date/time, so you know where you were and when. It will be a cinch to locate the address and venue name later. If you do this whenever you stop, you'll have a perfect, thorough, reliable record of your movements, without using up any data allowance (if you're abroad and not on a foreign data plan). Never again wonder where that cool thing you found was. Also take a reminder (not necessarily artistic) shot of the cool thing, for linkage. 

Say you're checking out a place you previously read about on the internet, and want to tie that info in with your photos without stopping to take notes. Call up the web page in your browser and take a screenshot. You'll thus capture the URL (and with the latest iphone OS, you can always select and copy the URL's text directly from the photo).

Found an informative brochure for where you are? Or a sign showing operating hours? Or a menu? Swiftly shoot every page. Bang bang bang bang. Then throw away the paper. Return home without business cards, brochures, etc. It's all on your phone. One Camera Roll to rule them all.

Need to match a photo to some note you've taken? "Chauncy recommended this caviar"? Open the note on your phone. Screenshot. Then shoot the caviar (or menu or venue name). Done. All together nicely.

If you have some live comment you need to tie in (“must return on a Thursday for half-priced wine”), don't open your phone's notebook app to write a note that will be tough to associate back to this time/place. Instead, scrawl your note on a paper napkin and shoot the napkin (and then throw it away). Or else go ahead and open your notebook app, take a note, then screenshot the note and delete the note itself. Just pack the bejesus out of your camera roll!

Finally, shoot the receipt. Go paperless. This shot is also tied to GPS data and time/date.

When you're back home, you'll know every stop, every venue, and every expense. Twenty years later, you'll know exactly where you bought that great coconut juice on the beach, and even what you paid for it!

75% of my camera shots while traveling are purely reference (it's more like 50% for normal life at home). Stuff like recording of GPS data, taking of screenshots, elimination of paper (e.g. I don't record checks, I photograph them after I write them). Those support materials make my artistic photography much much easily to account for and share later. It's the best possible use of packrat instincts!

Then, when you do shoot real photos, shoot freely. No need to establish context, account for where you were when, or to associate your photos with supplementary data, notes, info, etc. It's all laid out, in beautiful chronological order, in your camera roll.

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