Slice of Life: Taking Pictures While Traveling

slice of life

I have never liked to take photos when I travel. I think that’s because there’s always such a disconnect for me between what I remember from a trip—a sharp-dressed man wearing red sneakers, a pile of stones on the beach, a latte with an especially elaborate swirl—and what I think I’m supposed to remember from a trip—the monuments and sites and attractions that other people are busily photographing. The more staged photos I have of me and my loved ones posing in front of attractions, the less I remember of what it actually felt and sounded and looked and smelled like to be in that place. I much prefer sitting down with my notebook and writing fast about what I see. That captures much more of what is essential for me about travel.

Now, I allow myself the pleasure of photographing what I please when I travel. This means that our vacation to Oregon is mostly memorialized by photos of rocks on the beach, and in Carmel, we took photos of interesting trees. These aren’t vacation photos that make a neat slideshow. Well, unless you like rocks or trees. But they’re photos I want to take and photos I actually like to look at when I get home.

This week, I’m in Chicago for a conference, and I’m snapping photos of whatever catches my eye. These are some things I’ve seen.

photo (2)

photo (1)


photo (6) photo (5) photo (8) photo (7)

13 responses to “Slice of Life: Taking Pictures While Traveling”

  1. This is such a great twist on vacation photos. I was so angry at my husband last year because we never took a family photo. Instead he kept snapping away at the kids in the pool. Guess what…I look back and remember how much fun the kids had sliding, jumping and running through the water falls at the pool. I would never been able to remember all those details if he hadn’t taken those photos.

    • My husband is always reminding me that we should put people in our photos! Thank goodness for the selfie! And the cell phone camera! I figure it’s easy enough to find other people’s photos–better than any I could take–of the major sites anyway.

  2. Elisabeth,
    I too have never really been into taking a lot of photos of my vacations. I feel that, more often than not, spending a lot of time stopping to take photos of the monuments and of staged events takes away from the actual experience. Nothing seems as spontaneous and simply fun when you have to stop and give a fake smile to a cold camera lens. I really enjoyed seeing a different perspective for taking trip photos. The first photo you shared is my favorite, just a pictorial slice of life from Chicago. Thanks for writing this slice of life!


    • I totally agree, Stephanie. I always look at least slightly strained in photos–that fake smile. I’m enjoying street art and graffiti in Chicago and snapping as many photos as I can!

  3. Love these unusual vacation shots. I annoy everyone with my picture taking, but they are usually happy later. I love your line – “…I’m snapping photos of whatever catches my eye.” I’m taking lots of photos and using them in my slices and Saturday celebrations lately. Interesting trees – I too love taking pictures of them. I’m annoyed that one of my favorite trees is cluttered by electrical wires – I may have to learn how to photoshop them out.

    • Now if I can just get myself to print some of my photos later! Several of the tree photos from California turned out surprisingly well. I will look forward to seeing more of your tree pix!

  4. You are the photographer, you take what catches YOUR eye. You will find some of your best photos will be of the candid things off the beaten path. Enjoy the unique beauty of the unusual. Look forward to seeing the world through Triple E (Elisabeth Ellington Eyes).

  5. Welcome to Chicago! It is a beautiful city and so much to look at. I live in the northern suburbs and we were driving through the city the other night and I always look around and marvel and the skyline at night. It never gets old (probably b/c I’m rarely down in the city!).

    • Forgot you were in this area! Chicago is really a beautiful city. My conference is at Navy Pier and I had lunch outside today by the water. Really loving all the interesting architecture too, but my phone takes terrible panoramic shots. Occasionally I do understand why people want actual real cameras, not just the camera on their phone!

  6. I am the one who is always taking pictures when we are on vacation, as my family loves to pore through the pictures, even years later. I love the idea of taking more pictures of what we notice and admire in places, though, and I am going to make sure that I do that more on the next vacation. Like the concept of Triple E from Raivenne.

    • I wish my family had a designated photographer! Your family is lucky that you are willing to do that–and that you remember to do it. It does help now that I have a smart phone–I do like taking photos with it and since it’s always with me, I’m remembering to take more photos. I really enjoy the quirky photos of small things that I might not remember otherwise!

  7. I love the idea of taking pictures of those small things that you notice while traveling. I can see how that would be much better for remembering what you felt like on vacation. I have so many pictures of myself in front of monuments and do not really remember half of them. I love your pictures of Chicago!

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