A few years back I spent a semester studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. One weekend that spring, I spent a few days wandering around the Slovak capital, Bratislava. Prior to visiting Slovakia, I’d had an interesting conversation at a Czech bar late at night that inspired me to take nearly no pictures during my visit.
Usually, when we travel, the cameras come out and in a fit of excitement and desire to remember/capture as much as possible, we essentially don’t stop clicking until we return home again.
But that night in Prague, as I sipped my cold hoppy beer in a dive bar in Zizkov, a boisterous fellow told me very passionately why we shouldn’t take pictures.
He said that when we hide behind a lens we distance ourselves from our subjects, from our experiences, from our precious traveling moments. He felt that travelers spend too much snapping, and not enough time existing. The point of travel- he lectured- is not to remember it later, or to show it off to friends, or to take as many stunning landscape and sunset shots as possible, but rather to simply exist where we are, to soak up the present moment, and to truly experience a new place.
Though he did have me fairly persauded,and I considered leaving it at home, I did bring my camera along with me. But I only took four pictures. Here are my four pictures from Bratislava. The rest of the time I was just existing.