Welcome to my playground: the space between home and destination. We live in a busy world. Fast-paced and often hurried, we are always in the state of getting from point A to point B. Recreation, work, or everyday life—this is a life in motion.
Often, while the big camera is packed away and airports or train stations are navigated, photographic moments can slip past us. Whether we are caught in traffic or traveling home down a desolate road in winter, these are the moments that make up our daily lives. How much of our time is spent waiting in lines? How many hours are consumed in the space between here and there while on a business flight? How many years of our lives spent devoted to shuffling children to and from the experiences that will grow them into amazing adults?
"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move."
–Robert Louis Stevenson
My life is busy, and I refuse to focus solely on the destination shots that come from the long-awaited once-a-year family vacation. Yes, time is relaxed and life feels most photogenic while on vacation—but my life is now, and it is zipping past with the blur of everyday activities and work.
As photographers, we shouldn’t dismiss the time we spend between destinations. Instead, use this time to create a body of work that documents your journey. These common travel moments are the images I gravitate towards. They are no less quality than the prime destinations photographed from coveted hotspot locations. My everyday travel images are spontaneous (sometimes shot from the hip) moments documented typically by mobile phone. They are neither destination nor vacation shots, but they are very much a part of my life. Few will share your exact path, so start documenting it!
My father traveled a lot when I was a child. It felt as though I grew up in the Newark International Airport. I honestly loved every minute of the weekly trips to such a crowded and busy environment. There was a story everywhere I looked! Thousands of people walked with intention, all on their way to or from somewhere. From a young age, travel began flowing in my veins.
In my adult life, I’ve been fortunate to spend many years taking road trips to (sometimes) grand destinations across the country, and I’ve got the images for show and tell. Like many of you, I’ve traveled for business and I’ve traveled for pleasure. These days, I always carry my smartphone in my back pocket, because I never know when the perfect scene will present itself. It’s true: the best camera is the one you have with you, not the one that is packed carefully with the rest of your gear in the trunk of your car or the overhead storage of your red-eye flight.
For me, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Even a trip into town to buy groceries can be a photographic opportunity when viewed from this perspective. The depth of darkness on a back road in Maine proves to be an intriguing story. A boat ride to my favorite island off the coast of Maine becomes abstract art. My summer solstice bike rides trigger memories of long ago childhood with the playfulness of shadows. The images I’m drawn to again and again are born right here in the space between home and destination.
If our days keep propelling us forward with great speed, then life is the highway, an airplane window seat or a spot along the road not far from home. It’s my personal challenge to pass the time that goes with layovers, delays or traffic. I fill this space with mobile photography. I now look forward to the different photographic opportunities that arrive, and I let go of the annoyance or mental fatigue that often comes from a big travel day.
A moment on the moving sidewalk in the Denver International Airport documents a milestone goodbye. This image is worth more to me than the sunset I viewed later that evening in the Rocky Mountains. By bike and by boat, I document the journey because, for me, the journey is where my strongest memories are stored. I enjoy the freedom of the journey, because it provides photographic moments to appear serendipitously wherever I happen to find myself. My favorite moments reside between point A and point B.
This past summer, the whirlwind of travel had me seeing five airports in two days. At some point in the late night of flight delays and a heavy homesick heart, someone asked me, "Where are you from?" And for a moment I drew a complete blank. Where am I from? I am from everywhere. And I document it every chance I get.
Using Mobile Photography To Document Your Life In Motion
|1. Carry your smartphone in a pocket on your body, not in a purse or carry-on bag. This will make opportunities available to you quickly, with the press of a button.
2. Practice thinking like a street photographer. If all the world is a stage, then everything can be seen as a photographic story while traveling.
3. Look for interesting ways to document your location as seen through your travels. Instead of documenting the car or the mud season of New England, change your perspective and picture the tread of muddy tires instead. Life is interesting! Shoot it this way.
4. Instead of the "obligatory wing shot" from your flight back home, create a window of the world. Or try for a bird’s-eye view of the landscape, typically pictured close to takeoff or landing.
5. Look for shadows, reflections, subtle details or negative space to fill your frame. The many layers revealed within a single reflection will not only show location but will convey emotion, as well.
6. Practice extreme caution if you are documenting a road trip. My shots of life on the road are taken through the windshield either from the passenger seat or from a completely stopped car. Safety first!
Meredith Winn weaves stories from truth and optical illusions from images. Balancing the digital world with slow photography, she is happiest in her darkroom creating tintypes from silver and light. Meredith lives off-grid in a yurt in t