In today’s day and age, we are constantly bombarded by imagery. Every second, an average of 786 photos are uploaded to Instagram, and for most of us, we spend a few seconds looking at a photo before quickly scrolling to the next.
As the way we consume photos is changing, so is the way we take photos. When I first got into photography, I loved the medium as it was a beautiful way to tell stories without using words. Nowadays, it feels like taking photos is all about creating an “insta-worthy” shot. Whether it is spending an hour to set up a breakfast spread or hiking up a mountain and changing into a long, flowy dress on the summit, many of us go to great lengths for the “perfect shot”. Consequently, this has diminished the use of photography as a means of capturing candid moments and telling real stories.
I will be the first to admit that my Instagram feed may make my life look rather idealistic. However, as I have mentioned many times before, these images do not tell the whole story. This year, my number one goal has been to not live to take pretty photographs, but to live for the stories behind the photographs. Thus, I thought I would take a moment to share with you some of the REAL stories behind my Instagram photos!
Thus, I thought I would take a moment to share with you some of the REAL stories behind my Instagram photos!
THE TIME I LOST MY CAMERA IN BALI
On our first day in the surf town of Canguu, we hired surfboards and headed straight to the beach. It turned out we weren’t quite as competent at surfing as we had thought. The locals we had hired the boards off must have taken pity upon us, as the next thing we knew, they were in the water helping us out. We spent the next few hours surfing with our newfound local friends. Once we returned to shore, they invited us for a beer. We ended up hanging out with them all evening, drinking Bintang, chatting about life and watching the sunset from the magical spot in this picture.
Later that night when I was back at our accommodation, as I went to look through my photos from the day, I had the daunting realization that I had left my camera on the beach! The next day, although convinced I would never see it again, I tried my luck and asked our local friends if they knew anyone who had seen it. After a few phone calls, they took me to the little store where we had bought our beer from, and lo and behold, the kind owner had kept my camera safe for me overnight!
Every time I look at this photo, it reminds me that most individuals on this earth are kind, honest, incredible people.
THE TIME I GOT STUCK IN JAPANESE COUNTRYSIDE
I arrived in Japan with a two-week rail pass and zero plans. After spending my first few days in Tokyo, I made the impulsive decision to get away from the touristic hotspots and to head up to Hokkaido, Japan’s North Island. My first stop was a city called Sapporo. When I arrived at my hostel, I ended up befriending the owners, who invited me to join them on a road trip. Over the next 48-hours, we visited waterfalls, listened to J-Pop, ate the freshest vegetable curry I’ve ever tasted, drank Sake and sang karaoke right into the early hours of the morning. In the morning, they dropped me off in the town of Furano, where I assumed I would find a place to spend the night.
I quickly discovered that every place in town had been booked up, and the only nearby accommodation available was a half an hour bus ride away. The real catch was the bus only ran twice a day, and I would have to wait five hours before the next one was due to arrive. After spending a day lugging my suitcase around Furano in a feeble attempt to explore the town, I ended up missing the bus by TWO MINUTES and had to pay an obscene amount for a taxi instead.
Yet, as soon I arrived at the property, I realized the whole debacle had been worth it. My quaint little guesthouse was surrounded by the most spectacular scenery, with mountains and lush fields spanning as far as the eye could see. I was suddenly thankful that all the accommodation in Furano had been booked up, or I would never have had the opportunity to stay in one of the most tranquil places in the world.
Every time I look at this photo, it reminds me that some things don’t go to plan for a reason.
THE TIME MY SCOOTER BROKE DOWN IN NORTHERN THAILAND
On my recent trip to Thailand, we happened to be in Chiang Mai during the Songkram festival, which is when the city erupts into a giant waterfight for three days in celebration of the New Year. After spending two entire days saturated from head to toe as we joined in the frivolities, we decided to rent a scooter and escape the madness for a day.
We decided to venture to the highest point in Thailand, Don Inthanon National Park. It turned out the scooter we hired wasn’t quite built to ascend a mountain. We discovered this when we were three-quarters of the way up and our scooter started to slow down to around 5km/h. It got to the point where I had to get off the scooter and walk! Thankfully, a kind gentleman passing by on his (high-powered!) motorbike spotted me and gave me a lift the rest of the way. The top of the mountain was truly a sight to behold- two magnificent temples stood tall, surrounded by colourful, perfectly-manicured gardens and mountains as far as the eye could see.
As we were exploring the temple grounds, a storm began to roll in and we realized we needed to get moving ASAP. Shortly after we began descending the mountain, the rain started pelting down, and once again, we became saturated from head to toe. Ten minutes later, our scooter had completely broken down. Of course, it turned out we had just run out of gas, which meant dragging the scooter to the nearest town to fill up. We spent our two hour journey home on the scooter soaking wet but joyous that we hadn’t had to spend the night camped out on a mountain in the middle Thailand.
Every time I look at this photo, it reminds me that often the most eventful journeys end in the most rewarding the destination.
THE TIME I ENDED UP IN THE WRONG COUNTRY
I thought I would save the best story for last… My biggest travel fail thus far.
The story begins in a place called Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a mountainous town in the very south of Germany. After a lazy morning spent catching up on sleep, I planned to spend the afternoon visiting Zugspitz, Germany’s highest mountain. I had been given instructions to get to the Zugspitzbahn Train Station, where I could get Cable Car tickets and make my way up to the summit. Conveniently, my accommodation was just across the road from the town’s main train station, so I hopped on a train and made my way to the Zugspitzbahn.
After 25 minutes, I hopped off the train at what I thought was my station. It took me all of 10 seconds to realize that I was at the wrong station. There was not a person insight, let alone a ticket office at this station. I checked the sign and realized my error- I had gotten off at Ehrwald Zugspitzbahn instead of the Zugspitzbahn. I tried not to panic. I figured I must have undershot by a station or two. There wasn’t going to be another train for a long time, so I started walking to find the next station, thinking it wouldn’t be too far away.
As I started strolling through the very sleepy town of Ehrwald, I spotted an elderly man limping along on the opposite side of the street so I made a beeline towards him (and probably scared him half to death). “Hello there! Do you speak English?” He shook his head slowly. Before he had a chance to escape, I whipped out my phone and pointed to the name of the station I needed to get to. He looked confused for a second, then his eyes light up and he pointed straight ahead. “Just up there?” He nodded confidently and I showered him with gratitude before he slowly inched away.
I started walking in the direction the elderly man had pointed me, along a desolate, winding country road. I could see a signpost in the distance, so I made a beeline toward it. As I walked along the road, the sun ferociously beat down and sweat begun to trickle down my back. Thinking I would be spending my time on top of a snow-covered peak, I had made the mistake of heavily layering up. Twenty minutes into my walk and I had removed my three jackets, beanie, scarf, thermal socks, only leaving a tank top and rolled-up leggings on my sweat-covered body. I finally reached a little yellow sign. On it was a cable car symbol and a 3km indicator. Good and bad news was better than just bad news.
I carried on my way, as the sign led me onto a trail through the dense woods. I spent a long, sweaty, frustrating hour walking along the trail, struck by the realization that I was alone in the middle of the forest with no mobile signal and NO ONE knew where the hell I was.
After what seemed like forever, the forest cleared and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel… Civilization! As I drew closer, I realized I was at a holiday park. I quickly scanned the area and found a concession stand. I bought a water, then cleared my throat and looked up at the lady at the counter a little sheepishly.
“I think I am a little lost. Am I anywhere near the Zugspitzbahn?”
Her eyes almost popped out of their sockets. “Oh no! You are in Tirol! You must catch a train and go back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to get to the Zugspitzebahn!”
It suddenly dawned on me. I had been to Tirol before… It was a town in AUSTRIA! I had managed to catch a train and walk for an hour into a DIFFERENT COUNTRY. Now, I had to go back to the EXACT place I had started out from.
“Some more bad news. The next train leaves in an hour, so by the time you get to Zugspitzebahn the cable car will no longer be running.” The lady flashed me a semi-sympathetic smile.
I started to laugh, because I knew that if I didn’t laugh, I was definitely going to cry. I walked outside, totally deflated, and plonked myself on a patch of grass. Thankfully, there was a bus heading back to the town I had walked from- I was in no state to walk for another hour. I arrived with another half an hour to kill before my train, so I consoled myself with an ice-cream I found at a gas station, which was the only shop open in town.
The train eventually came, and four later, I was back at the main station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. As I started walking back to my accommodation, I saw a sign out of the corner of my eye. In large, capital letters were the words ZUGSPITZBAHN- 100 METERS AHEAD. The very station that I had spent the past four hours of my life searching for turned out to be right where I started!
Every time I look at this photo of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it reminds me that when travelling, the moments that suck the most ALWAYS make for the best stories.
Now you’ve heard the stories behind some of my photos, I want to hear the stories behind your’s!
I’ve partnered up with Canon on their latest campaign, which is all about living for the story this summer. Basically, Canon is on the hunt for the ultimate storyteller to chase summer on a 365 day adventure around the world. Does this not sound like the best prize ever?!
If this isn’t exciting enough, to help you tell your stories this summer, I also have a EOS M5 Camera to giveaway to one of you! For your chance to win, all you have to do is post your best summer story on Instagram in up to 50 words, tagging #liveforthestory, @CanonUK and @PolkadotPassport in the caption before the 19th of June. Entries will be automatically be entered into Canon’s overall 365 Days of Summer competition. You can see all the T&C’s here! Entries will be judged on originality, story-telling ability and visual appeal, so get creative.
I can’t wait to see what you guys all come up with and read about all your epic summer stories!