A few years ago, shortly after my retirement, I stumbled across an online photography workshop and decided to give it a try. I learned a lot about photography from this course, but the breakthrough moment for me was when I learned how to use the video setting on my camera.
I was hooked from the start.
Today, I’m 74 years old and, although I don’t claim to be an expert in videography, I’ve already had two all-expenses-paid tours to take videos of tour groups on vacation. The first was to Zimbabwe, where we stayed at an exclusive safari camp; and the other was to the Hidrellez Romani Spring Festival in the historic town of Edirne, Turkey. In truth, it hardly felt like work at all. It felt like I was being given free trips, just to enjoy myself.
I had a lot of fun during my time in Turkey. The Hidrellez Festival is a joyful proclamation of the coming of spring. People prepare for the festival by thoroughly cleaning their homes, buying new clothes and shoes, and making special food, such as fresh lamb, or lamb’s liver. But the festival in Edirne has always been extra special, thanks to the rich tradition of music and dance held by the Romani people living there. The tour group I was hired to film were getting a crash course in Romani culture and learning how to dance before attending the festival on their last day.
I stayed in a hotel in the heart of the city, and every night we ate out in different restaurants, sampling as much of the local food as possible. Of course, I ate and drank for free, as the group’s videographer. I had so much fun with the group and I was so happy documenting their trip for them.
The day of the festival was great fun, with musicians and groups of people singing and dancing. A marching band filled the streets with music and a great fire was lit. Young boys leaped over the fire and made a wish for the coming year.
All this happiness and celebration cost me nothing, everything was paid for, my travel, food, and lodgings, and all to take some videos and photos with my digital camera. All I had to do at the end was to share the photos and videos on their Facebook page for the group to remember their trip. It was a wonderful experience, and it didn’t cost me a thing. I’ve made some great friends on these trips and I’m looking forward to many more. Here’s to the next 20 years.
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