I am a bad photographer – but I tell a good story

Yes, that’s right. When it comes to taking great pictures, I fail. What’s worse is that, every single time someone takes my picture, it is even worse. Thus I have a huge collection of pictures no one wants to see.

But you know what’s great about that? My stories get heard.

Building stories

My travels are best explained by experiences that are not captured in pictures. But do I regret that I have nothing to seal a memorable moment? No.

Why? Because I can relive those moments through memories!

anjaly thomas

For example, I do not have pictures at the top of Uhuru Peak – the first mountain I climbed. There are multiple reasons for this of course, as any mountaineer will tell you. One, I was trying hard to stay awake and safe. It wasn’t easy to snap a picture through gloved hands, the camera was frozen and four, I didn’t really care. But do I remember the peak? Oh yes. Everything from the exhausting crawl through blizzard and snow to the absolute loneliness at the top, to the sickening headache, unusual snow, the face of my guide to the hunger and the huge sense of fulfillment I experienced. I could never really have captured that in a photo, could I?


I have often have people look at a picture and scream with joy. “Oh wow, what a beautiful place,” they’d say, not really knowing that the picture they were seeing was just a freeze frame from a jungle that I had spent weeks walking through. What they were seeing was one frame with green trees, but I knew that to reach that particular patch of green, I had spent weeks walking through a jungle in Papua New Guinea and nothing was “oh, wow” about that walk.

Filling up SD cards

I hold thoughts, moments and experiences close to my heart.

And because I am busy trying to revel in the experience, I often fail to take photos or if I do, they are not nice enough to stand the critical eye. So, do I ever regret it when I come back and have very little to show?

But again, does it mean that I never take photos? No. I do. I capture sights on camera – not experience. Is there a difference? Yes. A big difference.

During my first visit to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, I told myself I was there to witness nature’s majesty etc, but deep down I was excited about pictures I could add on Facebook. Fortunately my battery died. And because it did, I learnt a few valuable lessons on that trip.  I learnt to observe. I learnt about the African way of life. I learnt about Maasai’s, about animal behavior because I observed and listened.

I also learnt that watching lions mate meant good luck. My memory is associated with useful info I gathered. Today if I looked at a picture of (even a bad one) a Maasai kid or the boat in Kampot, I’d easily remember everything else associated with it.

anjaly thomas

My memories are because I no longer have false/temporary memory of the photograph to fall back.

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