It’s been a while since I posted anything of substance. I have been taking a bit of a break from photography for various reasons, but we will leave that for another story. For the most part this platform has been about photography. Be it sharing tech talk, a photo trip or simply sharing a photograph, I’m not sure I have ever written anything with real substance. Perhaps, today is the day that I leave a little bit of myself out there for you to discover. This is a story of inspiration, discovery, and personal growth.
For the most part, I consider myself an introvert. I can only take a certain amount of time with large groups of people until I just need my own space. I have always relished nature and the solitude it brings. Maybe that’s what attracted me to nature photography in the first place. I feel more at home with bears, wolves and cougars than in a crowded subway in Rome or walking the “ant trail” through Venice. Sure you exchange a hello and greetings with people you cross paths with, which I do enjoy, but never anything more than that. Sometimes a brief conversation and then you move on or in my case, continue on photographing or moving towards the next photo location.
Years ago while traveling in Italy ( before camera’s ) I spent one bus ride chatting with a young lady from England. She had been traveling with friends and been back home for a while but the travel bug was still clawing at her. She was on her way back to meet up with her friends she had parted ways with months previously. The Canadian flag on my pack grabbed the attention of another fellow Canadian traveler. Same bus, different day. “Hey Canada” was what I heard and a young lady from Ontario sat beside me. We chatted for the duration of the bus ride. I remember that being really nice, for lack of better words. Meeting people that is. I thought that was actually pretty cool. I guess that’s one of the best parts about travel.
I wouldn’t call myself a traveler, but since those bus rides in Italy all those years ago, I have spent time in our Rocky Mountains, Alaska, British Columbia, Italy and took 5 or 6 trips to Costa Rica photographing the amazing biodiversity of the lush rain forests. There I would become friends with an amazing photographer, Greg Basco. To this day, I still believe he is one of the best nature photographers on the planet. His photographs, no, his art, inspire me every time I see one of his images. Go to Deep Green Photography and you will know what I mean! It was his inspiration that made me dive deeper in the world of making photographs.
I recently took a short trip to Vancouver Island for what I had deemed a photography driven 1 week excursion. I knew it would take a bit to get back into “seeing” and recognizing a potential for making photographs. I chose Botanical Beach and immersed my self for the whole week to hopefully get to really know the area and come home with 1 or 2 what I would call really successful Images. I also wanted to start playing around with shooting some video but quickly realized that I would have to devote a substantial amount of time to put together what I had envisioned. The video portion would have to be set aside for another time.
It took 4 complete days to finally capture some images along the temperate rain-forest trail near Botany Bay in the Port Renfrew area. I had passed this group of trees many times throughout my daily hikes but could not find or see a composition. On the fourth day, I would spend 2 hours photographing the gnarly trees. I finally “saw”.
I then made my way to Botany Bay and put together a rather pedestrian composition of the sunset that evening. The photo was rather unsuccessful but the young lady, I would meet that evening changed my whole perspective of this particular trip. Laurène was from France currently living in the Ivory Coast in Africa. I learned that she had her own little company offering guided adventure tours In the Ivory Coast. How cool is that?! We chatted for a while as she inquired about Tofino and possible campgrounds to stay. The campground would be a bit of a hike to so when Laurène asked if I could drop her and her friend off at the campground I thought that it was the least I could do. Her friend decided to make her way back to Victoria but Laurène chose to stay behind and spend some time in the Port Renfrew area. We would hike out of Botany Bay after the sun had set that evening through the dark trail lit by our flash lights hoping we would not cross paths with the Black bear sow and her cub that was spotted hours earlier.
It never even crossed my mind that my photo trip had now become one of meeting people and making friends rather that simply setting up a tripod to make photographs. We would spend the next 2 days hiking, sharing stories and all to briefly, getting to know one another. We would share and photograph, me with my Nikon and Laurène with my Fuji, what I had guaranteed to be an “absolutely spectacular” sunset. Lucky for me, my credibility would remain intact. Indeed it was an “absolutely spectacular” sunset! To me, It is one my top 5 favorite Images of all time. Not only because the sunset was genuinely spectacular, but also because of the story behind a moment shared. We exchanged contact information and parted ways on the Saturday. It would be about a week later that I finally understood. This was honestly one of my most memorable trips and all because a stranger from France living on the Ivory Coast had the courage to strike up a conversation with a lone photographer on Botany Bay.
Be sure to visit Laurène’s Facebook page Les P’tits Tours @lesptitstours It is truly inspiring!
I feel like meeting Laurène was a gift . I feel like I have made a new friend and hopefully our paths will cross once again in the future. For now, A smile and a wave on Facebook will have to suffice! The main thing that I will take with me from this experience?
Travel and happiness is best when shared.
Until next time…
P.S Iceland? New Zealand? Australia? ( 2020/2021 ) Anyone want to join me?