Maybe unintended consequences are more common than methodically accomplished goals. I went to Scotland for a vacation. I didn’t go to write a book, though I am an author. I didn’t go to produce a photo exhibit, though I am an artist. I was on a vacation, but being an author and an artist, I did take along a notepad and pen, and a camera. Welcome to the book. Welcome to the photos. Welcome to the unexpected.
The product of the notepad became the book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland, which is where a lot of my energy has been invested. You’re probably already aware of it. Reading engages imagination, and no book can describe every moment and every image.
The product of the camera was a series of about 100 photos, each with a story, but there’s usually a story sitting just outside the frame.
Writing and photography are two means of communication for me. That’s why I was glad to incorporate the photos into the book.
Reality strikes. The photos in the kindle version were formatted to a strict interpretation of the submission guidelines. They have marvelous color, but are the size of postage stamps. The photos in the paperback are a proper size, but could only be printed in black and white for that format. But the reality of the trip, the lesson I learned, and the consequence of publishing is that perfections will exist.
Authors have an easier time than photographers when dealing with imperfections. My memories, filtered through time and inattentiveness, can be written into the notebook’s gaps. The words are only limited by the English language, the writer’s creativity, and the publisher’s word count. The images I remember but didn’t photograph can’t be recovered. A photographer is limited by the equipment they carry. That’s why so many walk around like camera stores, with lenses, filters, backup cameras, tripods, flashes, and bad backs.
I carried my old digital point and shoot, a camera that probably captures fewer pixels than the cameras in most phones. It satisfied the artistic itch, and more.
It may be heresy, but simple cameras can work well, if the photographer doesn’t ask them to do too much. Fancier cameras help with low light, or extreme closeups, or incredible detail; but, if the only parts of Scotland worth looking at were incredibly detailed extreme closeups in low light then Scotland wouldn’t be a much of a place to visit. No place would. Scotland has those images, but it also has the classic landscapes, still lives, and vignettes that fit the story of memory. And in the case of my book, fit the story of the story.
There are photos with each chapter, but there are dozens more. That’s one reason to do slideshows. That’s one reason to have them available online. If you’ve read the book, see how well the photos match the chapters. You may spot the photos taken during a rare spot of sun on a day that I described s dreary. You may find photos that tell stories that didn’t end up in the book. (You’re welcome to quiz me about them.) I’ve made a small online gallery of the ones that I consider the best. I’d be honored and pleased if you bought any that resonated with you.
My point and shoot did better than I expected. And, yes, there were those days when I wished I’d carried a tripod, an extra lens, and had more time. Even with minimalist equipment: “My camera got a workout. My progress slowed as I set myself against trees and walls to steady otherwise shaky shots in the low light. I could’ve spent the entire day photographing one lane with a few gnarled trees.” Imagine how long my trip would’ve taken if I brought, and had to carry, all of that extra gear. Three weeks to cross Scotland? I’ve been known to spend spend twelve months around one bay. I’d still be there. Which, come to think of it, isn’t such a bad idea. I wonder if I can get a job there.
I also wonder if I’ll sell so many books that I can go back for a real vacation. Let’s see, will I take more or less than last time?