Posted by: Waheeda Harris | March 6, 2012

How many photos do you take when travelling?

I used to take only the good photos – you know that perfect view? The group shot? The one funny image that you couldn’t resist?

But now thanks to digital cameras, I take way more photos. And when I started travelling for work and writing about destinations, I had to learn to take more photos.

I had to learn to take multiple photos of the same thing, of things that to others would make no sense and to rethink everytime I took a photo to see if there was another way to take the shot.

Taking multiple photos of the same thing seems odd at first, until you begin to notice the subtle changes – especially the changing light – whether its natural or artificial, light plays a major role.

Sometimes its worth it to wait for a photo and sometimes you just need to take as many as possible in the moment.

When I travelled to Turkey, I made a stop in the industrial town of Bursa, and had the luck to be invited to a Sufi community centre, where every night they had a dervish ceremony, a devotional exercise to connect to God. Commonly known as whirling dervishes, the men who perform this ritual are maintaining a religious practise done for hundreds of years.

When you start seeing the men whirl its very hypnotic – combined with the rhythmic sounds of the musicians playing, its a unique combination of movement and sound. Knowing I had permission to take photos, I took a few, but caught up in watching the movements. It was tough to separate my experience from taking photos – they seemed to work against one another.

I focused on one man, taking several photos of his progression, but soon realized I was watching more than taking photos. At a certain point, I put the camera down, realizing the moment was too important to document – it was more about committing the experience to memory.

Now when I look at my photo gallery, I have a moment where I wished I took more photos. But I remind myself I’m glad to have experienced the ceremony and gained understanding of this community’s way to worship – which just as looking at a photograph I would have never learned.

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  1. I take thousands of pictures when I travel.

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