Friday, December 14, 2012

Shutterbuggery

This isn't the photo I wanted to take: it was the tattoo on his buttock that would have made the really striking shot - but he expected payment for that and, well, I was in Scotland... I've been tidying up loose ends and this goes with a story that's been knocking about for ages that I've recently found a home for. It's a bit of an odd one, about stalking Bonnie Prince Charlie on our travels around Scotland a couple of years ago - quite inadvertently, but also inevitably, as it turned out. You can't go anywhere in Scotland without bumping into Mary and BPC, with people talking about them as though they've only just left the room.

It was complicated to write, because Charlie's Jacobite Rising followed a different route from ours; and choosing the accompanying photos was a little compromised because this was the trip when my Canon cartwheeled down a scree slope on the Isle of Skye just over halfway through, so I don't have photos for places like Culloden, Loch Ness and Glasgow. I've read some fairly impassioned arguments for not travelling with a camera at all, that you see more, connect better, have a more real experience of a place when you're not distracted by peering through the viewfinder looking for angles and subjects. I've certainly seen plenty of people who honestly couldn't have had much of an idea of where they've been until they get home and look at their images. Video-cameramen (and it's always men) are the worst for this. I really do wonder what they do with all those hours of video that they shoot.

But I couldn't imagine travelling without a camera, and not only because it's essential to my job, as editors expect the complete package these days, and simply supplying the words just won't work at all. I find that having to record wide shots and close-ups, of people, places, animals and food does make me look more closely at places, explore further, make contact with people, look up. And since I'm frequently having to take notes and publishable photos and conduct interviews all at the same time as absorbing a few personal impressions too, snapping quick shorthand shots is also useful for jogging my memory later. When I have time, though, it's very satisfying, as well as lots of fun, to concentrate on the camera and get something that I think is really worth having.

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