A LITTLE BIT OF BACKSTORY
I've been doing Photography full time now for about a year and a half. I've been visiting Lebanon with my family for about twenty years. It seems pretty obvious that Lebanon needed to be my first country that I tried to document and showcase with my photos.
Like I said, I've been going back and forth from the U.S. to Lebanon ever since I was born. Some of my dad's family is over there in the house they grew up in so any chance we get we try and visit. I won't go into details about the culture and hospitality that exists over there but I'll talk about its looks, because I'm a photographer, I'm superficial like that.
I always knew Lebanon was gorgeous, the mountains butting right up to the Mediterranean, the olive, fig, and pomegranate trees lining the streets. I always used to chuckle to myself because I knew that the views that I got to see weren't the views people would see in their head when I told them I came back from Lebanon. What I never could of expected was how much better Lebanon could look to me.
Perspective. That's the only thing that changed. Ever since I've really buckled down and tried to improve my photography, my eyes have started to look at things completely differently. It was like I unlocked a secret ability when I came back this year. I started noticing everything, the atmospherics, the light stippling through the olive branches, the rolling mountains, even the contrast of the red tiled roofs against the green treetops in the distance. Every step I took, every time I turned my head, every moment I'd be hit in the face with a new composition to take a mental snapshot of. Now it was my job to turn that mental image into a real one I could share with the world.
THE FEAR OF UNDER REPRESENTING
My first attempt at Travel Photography being in a place so close to my heart provided a lot of benefits of course. I knew some spots to go to, I knew people to tell me where to go and to bring me there. The thing is, it also put the pressure on me way more than starting out in a place I've never visited.
What if I couldn't articulate Lebanon's beauty? I have all these people that can speak up and tell me my photos aren't REALLY showing what it's like there. Maybe I should have waited to get some experience so I could put my best foot forward and really show everyone what I love about this place. Was I being naive in starting here?
SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP
No. I'm not gonna talk myself out of this. This was exactly what I needed. Growth = tension/time. I just realized the pressure I was under, and I had two and a half weeks to prove to myself that I could do this. Work on my weaknesses and showcase my strengths. That was the game plan, and that was exactly what I did.
Every day I had my camera slung over my shoulder and my eyes as focused as can be. My main goal was to work on my biggest weakness, which is landscapes. If I can't take advantage of the perfectly sculpted land in Lebanon then I'm just going to admit defeat and sell my wide angle lenses.
I ended shooting around 300 photos per day (working on getting over shooting in public) and staying up until 5 or 6am every morning editing. It was definitely a balancing act of enjoying the time there with my family and friends and working hard on developing my skills as a photographer.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
So I bet you're asking yourself, "How did it go? Do you think you succeeded in your first travel photography experience?" If your are asking that then you have really specific questions after reading a short blog post.
But ultimately, yes I think I killed it over there. I have a handful of photos that I'm very proud of, whether it's because I captured a really nice landscape that I didn't think I could pull off, or if I showed a meaningful story in a portrait I got. But don't take my word for it, this is my photography website, go look at the photos I took!
This whole experience was really rewarding and eye opening for me. Halfway through the trip I realized a new goal that I have for the rest of this year. I'm going to stop spending my money on gear (GASP did he really just say that?) and start saving up for experiences, plane tickets, adventures, whatever you want to call it. I'm putting my focus towards being able to explore the world little by little, and I have Lebanon to thank for that.