How This Paris Moment Will Pay Me

At 5.45 a.m., the Paris Metro is nearly deserted and we have our pick of open seats. Across from me, Marisa is hunched over, her forehead teetering on the top of her tripod. Sleepily, she lifts her head and opens one eye to survey me in my bright red, 1960s prom dress.

“One more stop,” I say, and she goes back to napping on her tripod. She’s not a morning person. But she knows this is going to be good.

When we get to Trocadéro, the air is fresh and cool on our skin as we swish around, bare-legged in our dresses.

Apart from the sanitation crews hurrying about in their neon yellow vests and green pants, and a few errant pigeons, we have the place to ourselves. Paris feels more expansive without the usual swarms of summer tourists.

We hoist our tripods onto the platform and giggle at each other. She’s never seen the Eiffel Tower and now it looms before us in the pre-dawn sky, the city of Paris stretching out behind it as far as we can see.

This moment is what travel is all about. This is what makes life fun. And we wouldn’t be here at this hour if it weren’t for photography.

In a heartbeat, we are both running across the platform. We stop, open our tripods, kick off our shoes, and proceed to leap and dance in front of our cameras until the sun comes up. A few other photographers arrive, one photographing a newlywed couple, another shooting a belly dancer in a halter top and skirt with coins hanging from gold threads.

And, though I feel like a crazy person running around barefoot in a prom dress in Paris…I feel alive.

I’ll submit these photos to a stock agency, where they’ll join my other travel photos, and start selling. I’ve made $416 from one image alone and it continues to sell.

Traveling with a camera has forever changed the way I see and experience the world.

I loved visiting a family of wood carvers in Ecuador. But photographing them brought my attention to the little details I’d otherwise overlook. The curls of shaved wood on the floor…the unfinished face of an angel peeking out from a pile of clutter…the weathered hands of a master woodcarver.

They’re pieces to the story that I wouldn’t see without looking for them. And when I photograph them, I get to share them with the world.

If you ever take a long-tail boat through the canals of Bangkok, you will inevitably have an opportunity to buy some bananas from a woman wearing a large hat. Someone will encourage you to purchase a hand-painted trinket or two (or five)… and someone else will beckon for you to buy something else.

It’s expected. After all, that is what most tourists do. They look, they eat, and they buy stuff to take home.

But you are not a tourist. You are a traveler with your camera, searching for the details and experiences that give a place character. You will see more, feel more, and live more. And that is what you will take home.

 

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