Follow Your Nose

In my street photography class this summer, we reviewed quotations of famous photographers to get a better understanding of their various approaches towards taking pictures.  Many of them echoed the same theme, suggesting that as a photographer, you should always “follow your nose”; or rather turn off your brain, stop planning, and make decisions purely based on intuition.  You may not know why you turned down that side street, framed something the way you did, or clicked the shutter at the moment you chose to, but your intuition should be the deciding factor.  Thinking or planning too much may remove the authenticity of a moment and limit your creativity.

I adopted this little motto, “follow your nose,” in my daily thinking and often find myself saying it to whoever I’m with.  This mindset has not only changed my photographs, it has changed the way I’ve been thinking of my trip on a broader level.  The not-knowing or not-understanding is a risk, but it also removes all preconceived limits I might have put on where I go, what I do, and who I meet.

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My first time getting to put this into practice on a larger scale was after the Luau weekend in Provence.  I had intentionally left a couple of weeks without plans for after the London week and France weekend.  I had been thinking I would go down to the coast of southern France and make my way up to Venice before my next set plan – meeting a friend in Southern Spain.

IMG_3796I kept hearing suggestions that I stay with Woody, the vineyard manager who has hosting us in France.  Because of the number of guests and general schedule, I didn’t get the chance to chat with Woody directly about this idea.  On Monday, as everyone was checking out and leaving France, I still had no idea what I country I would be sleeping in that night.  My anxiety levels rose steadily until I decided there was no harm in asking Woody if I could stay (and had the backup plan of getting dropped off in nearby Avignon if he said no).

We arrived at the vineyard to say our goodbyes and before I could even get a word out, Woody said “You’re staying here, right?”  So I was invited to stay in the second bedroom at the vineyard and work for him for as long as I’d like.  A day, a week, a month – whatever I was up for.  Naturally, I said yes.

Before I even get into what I experienced and learned during my week with Woody in Provence, I first have to express that this was my first time ever completely giving up control and jumping head first into something so unknown and so foreign with a relative stranger.  It taught me that taking a leap of faith has a whole slew of rewards I could never know from remaining in my comfort zone.  It totally invigorated me to continue traveling the rest of the world and see what’s in store.

Every day since adopting this little motto for myself, I follow my nose and see where it takes me.  So far, I have been thrilled with the experiences I’ve had, photographs I’ve taken, food I’ve eaten, and people I’ve met.

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