A few years ago I decided that I wanted to craft a signature photo. Something that I could easily carry with me, that I could insert into photo after photo that would help humanize shots. I wanted something that could be used or done anywhere – even if I was alone in the depths of rural Argentina. What I came up with was a series of boot shots. I feel that they help convey a sense of wonder, add a human element, and at the same time are something that is readily and easily identifiable as part of a long term photography project.
Upon returning from my recent trip to Austria and Turkey, I sat down and edited the most recent batch of boot photos. The final candidates numbered 26 and brought the total number of boot photos I’ve uploaded to 312. The oldest of the photos was captured in late 2008. The most recent on April 2nd of this year.
Within the album you’ll find photos from North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Subjects in the photos range from penguins, polar bears and sharks to castles, cliffs, and caves. A number of current and former wonders of the world are also featured.
To my knowledge, this is the most extensive project of its kind based on number of photos taken, time period covered, and sheer diversity of locations featured. While many of the photos showcase one of three generations of Keens I’ve owned and traveled in, flippers, flip-flops, snowshoes and bare feet can also be found. The boots are my go-to for travel, but were never intended to have meaning beyond that – thus, it will be interesting to see if future photos continue to feature them, or other footwear becomes increasingly common moving forward. What do you think – would a pair of neon-green running shoes spice things up a bit?
Why Do It?
This is an album dedicated to wanderlust and the open road. It is dedicated to conveying the spirit of travel, of adventure, and of the unknown. Of reminding us to sit, pause, and to relax while in the moment. To soak it up, and to enjoy it. To be inspired and to have our imaginations run wild. It is also an album about memory and reflection. It is about re-visiting rich experiences and re-living them.
As I sit here writing this post, I find myself going through old photos. Each of these photos takes me back to a special moment. It’s amazing how time blurs our memory if we don’t have anchors to bring our experiences back into focus. As I flip through photos from mere months ago I find myself re-living the minutes that led up to and followed the taking of the photo. Small details come back to me. Smells. Sensations. All of it. Without these anchors and small reminders these sensations might easily be lost to the ravages of memory and time.
The photos themselves also tell their own story. They do more than showcase where I’ve been and a set of locations. They document my growth as a traveler, photographer and travel writer. The quality of the photos has gradually increased as I’ve slowly mastered the art of photography and editing. Of equal aid is the progression in equipment. The first photos were captured on a point and shoot Canon G6. Later generations were recorded with a Canon G11 while the most recent photos were taken with a Canon 600D dSLR. When I started I shot almost exclusively on automatic. More recently I’ve begun to tackle the delicate dance that is Av, Tv and M modes, white balance, f stop and ISO. The art that is editing is also its own adventure and challenge – sometimes I succeed, other times…well…other times I learn.
There’s also an element of disbelief. A surreal type of surprise when I sit down and look through this album. In 2007 I decided to make travel a fundamental part of my life. I chose to prioritize it in a major way and to invest heavily in it. Over the past few years that decision has payed off with the chance to see, experience and do things I never imagined possible.
Yet, when you’re caught in the midst of it – of planning the next trip, reflecting on the past one, and trying to document everything in-between it is easy to lose perspective over all you’ve done. I don’t think that’s something that is limited to serial travelers either, I think we all do it on a regular basis and in our day-to-day lives. It’s just that most of us lack an album that helps document and showcase those accomplishments and experiences. To that end, it is my hope that these photos and this post help inspire you to not only take a moment and to reflect on your own adventures, but also to consider how you might begin your own project. Something to tie your experiences and life-changes together.
I am also reminded by these photos just how awe inspiring the world is. We live surrounded by incredible beauty and while some of it can make for one heck of a difficult journey to get to, there are always incredible sights to see, places to explore and moments to discover in our own back yards and within reach regardless of what resources we have available to us. The weekend is just around the corner – have you decided yet how you’re going to use it?
I invite you to head over to the complete album on flickr and to look through the photos. I hope you enjoy the story they tell and that they resonate with you in some way. I hope that they trigger memories of your own, and that they inspire you. I hope that they pull you out of this moment, and allow your mind to wander and your imagination to run free. I would also love to hear which photos resonate with you the most and what format you prefer. If you have questions about where they’ve been taken, feel free to ask. I’m always happy to share, and of course please feel free to share this album and this post with anyone you think might enjoy it.