Some time ago I discovered that I prefer photographs that give a personal impression of a place, or subject, in contrast to the perfect & beautiful shot. I feel this is because ultimately perfection is dull, and beautiful can be boring. This shift in values, taste & perception was catalysed by No Matter Where You Go, a small collectable photo book by Jun Kawabata. I bought the book many years ago while living in London. Kawabata has a penchant for bad lighting, green tints, plastic flowers and sad Christmas trees – but its kind of what I love about his work, there is an uncomplicated honesty to it, which in this air-brushed era, feels enormously refreshing, and a huge relief – this composer/photographer has the honesty to show life as it arrives to him. It’s taken about a decade for me to process this shift, and act on it – so I am beginning to approach my own traveller photos in a similar way, while employing my own aesthetic values. These are simple impressions of my recent impromptu trip to Costa Rica, while visiting my traveller free-spirit-friend. I was never in search of the perfect shot, simply an interesting one, at least from my perspective. What makes a subject interesting, for me, could be anything and nothing, inconsequential or sublime – it doesn’t matter, as long as the subject makes me stop and look – and look again.
We started out near the Nicaraguan border at pristine Bahia Salinas, where I successfully dodged kite surfing lessons. We then moved south along the coast to surf-town Tamarindo, before heading inland to the Monteverde mountains, along the worst roads I have ever experienced, to hike the Cloud Forest (not before unsuccessfully dodging the zip-line and 3-second heart-stopping drop… never again). From there we came down the mountain to Lake Arenal, where we experienced the volcanic hot springs, and the awe-inspiring Ceiba Pentandra, considered to be the inspiration behind the movie Avatar’s Tree of Souls. Finally, just as a monsoon-like storm broke over the lake, we headed back to the sun-soaked coast, to horizontal Samara beach, where we stayed with Marlene, an 82-year-young knock-out American ex-pat, who is still cooking three-tier breakfasts for a house full of Canadians. I have over a 1000 shots, and I’ve spared you the one of me in a bikini, so this small collection represents some of my favourite images of a handful of memorable moments…
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