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.