Posts Tagged ‘photography’

49. Photos with Local Children

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

kids6

Why do backpackers insist on taking photos of children wherever they go?

Sure, foreign kids are cute. I’ll give them that. But they’re also often super dirty and smell funny. I suppose all kids are dirty and smell funny though, not just foreign ones.

kids

But do immigrants come to Canada/U.S./U.K./Australia, wander onto a schoolyard and have someone snap photos of themselves with their arms out, surrounded by white children? Just wondering.

The following is a journey into the mind of a backpacker taking photos of local children, particularly in the developing world:

  • “OMG look at how cute these local children are!” (snap)
  • “Look at these kids. they live in tin shacks, but somehow they’re so happy.” (snap)
  • “Look at their genuine smiles and the joy in their eyes. These kids literally have nothing.” (snap)

kids2

  • “I’m honestly shocked they’re not asking me for money or trying to pickpocket me…” (snap)
  • “…like those damn gypsy kids in… Hey, kid. Take your hand outta my pocket.” (brushes kid’s hand away) (snap)
  • “Look at this one, touching my face and my hair. Never seen skin or hair like mine before. WOW!” (snap)

kids5

  • “I am so enlightened by this experience. More enlightened than my friends back home.” (sigh) (snap)
  • “I am so glad I came to (developing world country). I appreciate (developed world home country) more now.” (snap)
  • “Seriously. Look at these children.” (snap)

kids7

  • “I don’t want to say that I’m like Jesus. But I love little children, just like Jesus, which explains my arms-out messianic pose.” (snap)
  • “I hope their parents don’t come out during our photo shoot. I don’t want them thinking we’re exploiting their kids.” (snap)

kids3

  • “Hurry up, Kevin. Take the picture. I think that might be one of their parents.” (snap) (takes off running)

For those of you interested in “The etiquette of photographing strangers” (of any age), check out this article by Lonely Planet author Richard l’Anson.

“Photographing strangers can be daunting, but it needn’t be,” he writes. “Most people are happy to be photographed. Some photographers ask before shooting, others don’t. It’s a personal decision, often decided on a case-by-case basis.”

But approaching foreign strangers and children in a palms-out messianic stance certainly can’t hurt.

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Backpacking in the News

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Link to article: 12 months, countless countries, one bag

Roberto Rocha with all his gear.

Roberto Rocha with all his gear.

Canadian traveler Roberto Rocha put together a sound list of things to bring and not to bring on a long backpacking trip. “No room for dead weight,” he writes. “Lose the long pants and travel gadgets, but hang onto the camera and Swiss Army knife.”

I concur: I’m all about the camera and Swiss Army knife. Laptop, however? Not so much. I never backpack with a laptop; I opt for Internet cafes (see 9. Lost e-mails).

What to pack: Thai fisherman’s pants, shirts made of light material, travel-size toiletries, three must-haves (Swiss Army knife, camera and MacBook).

What to ditch: long pants, towel (they come with rooms everywhere), travel gadgets (e.g. flexible silicon bowls, foldable water bottle, waterproof wallet bag).

Oh, and like me (see 16. iPod Thieves), Roberto’s had his iPod stolen. Go figure.

For more on this topic, check out What not to bring backpacking: 10 things to leave at home.

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42. Facebook

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy, but not too busy to write. It seems I’ve been preoccupied: I bit the bullet and joined Facebook. I know, I know. I’ve long been an outspoken Facebook detractor and have gone as far as calling it gay, self-indulgent (see 4. Nobody Gives a S#%&) and downright unnecessary. Which it is.

Ashamed, I even tried sneaking a Facebook reference into my previous post (see Par. 2), meekly justifying it as a means of staying informed and feeding my journalistic appetite.

There were reasons for feeling defeated:

  • I worried that joining Facebook and shooting my creative load through daily status updates and random witticisms would be detrimental to my blog productivity, and I was right.
  • Facebook is for people who love the sound of their own voice. I knew it would consume me.
  • On the flip side, Facebook is terribly invasive. If curiosity killed the cat, then Facebook is the Cat Auschwitz of the Internet. Again, I knew it would consume me.
  • For the longest time, I argued: “Facebook opened an ethical can of worms, which allows people you intentionally didn’t keep in touch with to get in touch with you. And you can’t ignore their friend request because next time they see you in public, they will know you intentionally didn’t keep in touch with them, for a second time. That’s insulting and before Facebook, it didn’t have to be.” I am weak and I accept everybody now.
  • There are obvious benefits to be being on Facebook, but I’m not going to get into them because this blog is all about tearing shit down. Facebook is successful because of these benefits. Let’s leave it at that.

So, the following are things that truly annoy me, a late adopter, about Facebook:

  • Rampant beenouing.
  • Bad spelling. Examples: “To funny. Its awesome. Definately! Your so right.”
  • People trying to be photographers (see 7. “Into Photography”).
  • People trying to be models. The faux photographers are 50 percent to blame for the emergence of 50 percent of faux models. “Come, let me shoot you and we’ll add the shots to both of our portfolios.”
  • Girls taking photos of themselves blowing kisses. And especially taking such photos in front of the bathroom mirror after finishing their hair and makeup before going out.
  • Commenting on something just to be nice and being subsequently notified about everybody else’s lame comments. I was trying to be nice, but I don’t give two shits about what some stranger has to say about your new haircut.

How is any of this relevant on a blog about backpacking? Because all anybody does on hostel computers or in foreign Internet cafes now, is go on Facebook. Facebook is the world. They’re making a movie about Mark Zuckerberg, for chrissakes. My ninth post has quickly become obsolete.

While on the road last month, I realized that I wasn’t asking anybody for their e-mail address anymore. I was asking new acquaintances what their last names were. Kinda creepy. But not as creepy as I thought it would be. Most people readily told me their last names; some even spelled them out for me, with the knowledge that I was gonna add them on Facebook. There’s an unspoken understanding now, when you ask somebody what their last name is.

The sun is setting on the day when two travelers meet, have a good time and exchange e-mail addresses. Or maybe I just got here in time to catch the last few flickers of light before it disappears behind the horizon.

Either way, I hate it.

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Backpacking in the News

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Link to article: What not to bring backpacking: 10 things to leave at home

Chad Norwood's gear for a 6-month, round-the-world trip.

Chad Norwood's gear for a 6-month, round-the-world trip. (Source: chadn on Flickr.com)

I agree that the unnecessary weight of jeans and hiking boots should be avoided, especially in hot, humid places. (Looks like Chad packed both, in the above photo).

I’ve packed a sleeping bag before but rarely ended up using it (only while camping a couple times). I never backpack with a laptop — I use Internet cafes instead (see 9. Lost e-mails). I do travel with an SLR camera, but I don’t bring any additional lenses or flash units.

The author, Steve James, also concludes that “there is a common consensus that people who travel with guitars are tossers.” Good stuff (see 18. Playing Guitar).

A couple other packing techniques that chap my ass:

backpack-locknet

I think Spiderman shot a load on your bag.

Backpack locknets: What is the point of these? To prevent people from unzipping pockets or cutting into your massive pack while you’re wearing it? And when it’s stowed in a cargo area or closet on a train, bus or in a hostel, I’m pretty sure a would-be thief could cut through it with a standard pair of wire cutters.

This look should be avoided.

This is not a good look for you.

Double packing: You’re not carrying a baby. You don’t need to hang gear off your chest if you’re already hauling a load of shit on your back. Better to keep it all on your back and not have to bother with two packs. Besides, it looks ridiculous.

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40. Beach Games

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

I just want to lie on the beach, drink, smoke cigarettes and, if I feel like it, read a book. I want to people watch. I want to take photos of children frolicking in the surf. Just kidding, I actually don’t, but people who are into photography do.

Since I came here on vacation, I want to bask in pure laziness. If you would rather be active while at the beach, good for you, champ. Just don’t expect me to participate in any of the following games:

Beach Ultimate
  • Frisbee: I hate Frisbee. I especially hate people who are “good” at Frisbee, with their unconventional tosses and catches. Likewise, I detest Ultimate (perhaps the fruitiest team sport ever conceived). The only way Ultimate could get any worse is if it were played in a parking lot in rollerskates and cut-off jean shorts.
  • Beach volleyball: It’s never as competitive as it should be. The unathletic weak links on each team kinda ruin it. The only time it’s ever been truly competitive at the amateur level was when Maverick and Goose took on Iceman and Slider, while shirtless and wearing jeans (full-length jeans). Now THAT’S beach volleyball.
  • Beach tennis (a.k.a. Paddle ball): A variation of table tennis, without the table. Or the fun.
  • Beach soccer: I remember kicking somebody in the shin with bare feet while attempting to play beach soccer. My toes were throbbing for hours, an experience that forever soured my appreciation of beach soccer. And there’s no cross-bar over the net (which consists of two shoes as goalposts), so there’s always an argument as to whether or not a shot was “too high” to be a goal. Plus, North Americans are an absolute joke at soccer.
  • Hackey sack: The juggling can also be done with a soccer ball. But the hackey sack is more transportable and hippie/stoner-friendly. Either way, it’s extremely boring.
  • Beach (American) football: Non-North Americans cannot throw a football.
  • Beach rugby: I don’t even know how to play rugby. Most North Americans don’t. So yes, I am a pussy, according to Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, Brits and certain Frenchmen.

A couple exceptions:

  • Patentero: A Filipino beach game that is super awesome. Ask my dad how to play it.
  • Bocce: I actually love this game, mostly because it can be played at a lethargic and effortless pace.
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7. Pretending to be “Into Photography”

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

photography

This is one of the oldest backpacker beenous in the book. Give me a break. Yeah, you’re so “into photography.” I’ve got news for you: Everybody and their dog is into photography. Seriously, my buddy taught his German Shepherd how to take pictures – it’s very Littlest Hobo. Saying you’re into photography is like saying you’re into traveling, while surrounded by other travelers. Not very original.

I applaud Woody Allen for spoofing vacationers who fancy themselves vagabond Annie Leibovitzes. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Scarlett Johansson’s character, Cristina, is a confused artist and wannabe filmmaker who spends her time daydreaming and taking shots of children in the streets of Barcelona. She has no idea what she’s doing and it isn’t until she meets Penelope Cruz’s character, Maria Elena (who actually has an eye for photography and convinces her to ditch her digital SLR), that she starts taking decent pictures.

The overestimation of one’s own photographic prowess runs rampant in the backpacking community. Let’s be frank. You’re traveling. You, like most members of the species, are a visual being. You want to remember the fantastic scenes unfolding before your eyes. You bought an expensive camera on top of paying a fortune to get here, so damn right you’re gonna take a few pictures. That’s fine; so is everybody. We agree that photos are wonderful souvenirs. But don’t go telling me you’re so into photography.

I’ve seen the pictures you take. They’re brutal. You don’t even know how to use that grenade launcher you call a camera. Good for you. You’re struggling with your 30-lb. Lowe Alpine bag that’s a bitch to haul, but “is so worth it.” You talk about aperture, F-stop, depth of field and all that mumbo jumbo to people who  just want you to stop pretending you know what the hell you’re talking about.

Give me that thing (damn, it’s heavy). Which button? Oh, OK. Say cheese… I mean, “Say Facebook!” (Kill me now.) There you go, unforgettable good times captured forever. Yeah, I took a good shot, hey? Perfectly framed, two-thirds in. Did I mention I’m into photography?

Upcoming pretense posts to look out for:

  • Playing Guitar
  • Vegetarians
  • Pretending to be “Into Buddhism”
  • Pretending to be “Into Music”
  • Pretending to have lived somewhere but were actually just visiting
  • Rich kids pretending to be poor
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