Half-week homework: Go to Cambodia

OK, OK, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek. Even so, it’s undeniably a great way to freshen up your photography, and your life. When was the last time you did something radical?

I tend to consider myself to be someone relatively resistant to conceptual boxes. When it seems like I’m expected to take a path to the left, I’ll cut to the right down a foot-worn semi-trail to escape. In my opinion, Robert Frost took far too long to decide to take the more interesting path. Nevertheless, even I like my routines. I have a side of the bed, a particular chair at my parents’ table, and many preferences to which I am excessively attached. It’s simply a part of human nature, and understandably so. While most of the unexpected in our unprecedentedly-safe world could be described as “exciting, novel input for a hungry brain,” broadening our experience, there is also a great deal of comfort in knowing things for certain—illusory comfort though it may be, it’s nice to know that the bad kind of unexpected won’t be showing its face in at least one area of life, that nothing will be shortening our experience.

The risk of safety is stagnation. Without taking the risk to get that novel input, the poor, hungry brain starves for information. This is especially true for creative endeavors, and doubly-so for creative endeavors reliant on capturing images (that is, photography and videography). Sometimes, you do just need new subjects!

I’ve written a few times on this blog encouraging you, my readers, to seek out the tiny details around you as an inspirational challenge. I still maintain that it is of the utmost importance to have the mindset that every moment is an opportunity for art and that with a camera it should be impossible to be bored. It’s hard to make that last forever, however, without introducing something new to the system. Try as you might, the more of a “cache” you build up in the interest of making day-to-day life less of an exertion, the more you won’t actively see.

One of the best ways I’ve found to stay in awe of everything is to overcharge the circuits every once in a while with as much time as possible in as different a place as you can find. Not only will the setting itself make for inherently exciting photography, you’ll come back in the habit of truly seeing once more. This inspirational tip can take a lot of planning, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t get it done this week, but I exhort each and every one of you to go somewhere that will reawaken the child’s mind within your own. Go to Cambodia, go to Hungary, heck, even drive down to the Sand Dunes*—a trip doesn’t have to be expensive to be exotic, as long as you’re pushing the boundaries of your comfort. Remember what it was like to meet the world for the first time, then keep that energy going for the next few months/years… until you do it again.

*Seriously, Coloradans, they’re only four hours from Denver and it’s one of the most magical places in the entire world.

This is also to say that I’ve packed up the old WANDRD bag again. I’ll be in Cambodia for several weeks (I’m on a plane over Japan as I write this) and will be putting a nice little kit of gear to the test. Look forward to exciting photos, reviews toward the end of the year, and hopefully little disruption due to connection issues. Let me know if this inspired you at all, and be sure to bring in your favorite photos from your experience to your local Mike’s Camera to print them out!

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