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by Tiffani “Oh, look, a llama!” Michele

Because everyone knows I get paid for some of my photos, whenever I go away on vacation (like, to Peru!) people expect that I will return with National Geographic quality photographs of my trip. Here’s why that will never happen:

1) It takes a lot of work to capture the feeling of place! Usually done in the hours right before/after sunset and right before/after sunrise. These are known as the golden/blue hours of the day. Everything is awash in soft filtered yellow or amplified by a gorgeous blue after-sunset sky. But as a tourist, you know what I call these times? Happy hour and “sleeping off a hangover” hour. Drinking and photography rarely mix well, kids. Put down the camera and pick up the beer glass!

2) It takes work and time to scout the location to find the best angles to take the photos. Good lord, if I were trying to get good quality shots of Macchu Pichu I would probably get there and just watch the location change in the light for a few days in advance before deciding where to go and what time of day to get the perfect photos. But when I’m on vacation, the only things I’m scouting for are good gelato places and possible napping spots.

3) As a photographer it’s also important to have your camera at the ready and your eyes ready to spot anything worth noticing. But as an idle vacationer, it’s more important to have a nice cocktail at the ready and a good book to read.

Therefore, when National Geographic pays me to take pictures in exotic locations, I will come back with badass photos. Which would make it not vacation at all. So instead I’ll stick to my vacation modus operandi…eat well, drink often, and explore much!

I do take pictures while on vacation though. But it’s more about having an obsessive vision than it is about a sale-able image. And trust me, photographers are some of the most obsessive people around town. Some become obsessed with sun flare, others with reflections in windows, or old people on bikes. Sometimes you show up to a foreign place and become obsessed with things within the culture.

If you were to look at my pictures of Peru, you’d see a lot of pigeons, llamas, alpacas, dogs, and policemen. Not a lot of grand sweeping landscapes or even photos of the most memorable spots in the country. Nope.

Pigeons were everywhere in Lima, and for some reason I took pictures of them. Lots and lots of pictures. Like, more pictures of pigeons than anything else in the beautiful city. I can’t explain it, it just happened!

Llama, oh llama. (And alternately, alpaca, oh alpaca. Which looks like a llama with a bad hair day.) You are gawky, ill formed, and crazy looking. You are graceless and a little spastic. You have large expressive eyes and long long eyelashes. You have bewitched me with your direct gaze and your long ass giraffe neck on a furry mule shaped body. If I am ever feeling cranky, I just look at the pictures of you and all is right in the world.

I seem to recall an animated movie that came out in the 80’s, called “All Dogs Go To Heaven”. My younger brother and sisters watched it on VHS all the freaking time. I was a surly junior or senior by then, so I never watched it with them. I remember it was about a pack of dogs trying to survive in NYC (?? maybe?). Peru reminds me of this. There are so many free range dogs, it’s like the world is a kennel and we’re just renting space. I became obsessed with the dogs I saw. What were their stories? Who was in their pack? Were they happy? They looked pretty content. In fact, I like to think that my little shih tzu Frito Bandito (RIP little lady) magically transported there and is still prancing around with lots of other dog friends.

Finally, I have lots and lots of police photos. They were so…present…everywhere. Guns, riot shields, stern looks. It freaked me out. Everything was calm and cool, so I guess they were strictly preventative. I also found them highly photogenic.

What do you love to take pictures of? Like, obsessive love. As in, you can’t pass by a window reflection without stopping to take the shot?

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  1. August 17, 2012

    I LOVE the dog pictures!
    I obsessively take pictures of my offspring, because I’m a typical mother like that…

  2. August 17, 2012

    You nailed me on the “some people are obsessed with sunspots” comment. Yep. Also, benches, hands, and homeless people.

  3. Jill #
    August 17, 2012

    Love the alpaca/llama photos . . . I think you captured their wild, wooly ways perfectly. And me? I love to take pictures of their by-product: yarn. Lots of luscious yarn photos.

  4. Laura Drangmeister #
    August 20, 2012

    I think your photos are still badass. My obsessions vary, but always cool signs to remember the locations I visit.

  5. Shaikha #
    August 20, 2012

    I am all about following a map to where the good food and drink is when on holiday. Lately there are many children in my photos, which am not sure is indicative of what, because they used to scare me!

  6. boldbohemian #
    August 20, 2012

    I take photos of birds, mostly in my back yard, but at parks too. You can see my back porch finch photo at the top of my page.
    Even on vacation, your photos rock! I did not know you took photos for National Geographic. That rocks too!
    The dogs… well at least they look well fed too!

  7. August 21, 2012

    i cannot express how much i love that yellow wall pigeons in flight shot you took. it moves me. i want it on canvas in my living room. yep. awesome.

  8. August 22, 2012

    How cute are those llamas!
    I am far from a professional photographer, but still rather obsessed. We were in Rome last week and my other half still go fed up of all the time I spent taking, and re-taking photos!

  9. August 23, 2012

    Great pictures! Loved the alpacas pictures!

    Question about your uploading methods though: How are you uploading? Uploading a gallery? Uploading one by one? When I click your pictures, they refer to a gallery, but if I insert galleries, they come up as tiny, tiny thumbnails!

    Keep up the great work!

  10. August 24, 2012

    It does sound familiar to me. I love photography and I can spend hours/days on a project, but when I travel I just want to enjoy, explore and be present in the moment instead of looking for great light, composition, etc. Your pictues are great. My favorite is the lama overlooking ruins.

  11. sorryforbeingawkward #
    September 19, 2012

    Reblogged this on sorryforbeingawkward.

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