Travel Photos to Bring Back Memories

Travel photos can help you remember highlights of your journey long after you are home again. They can remind you of special experiences and people you met along the way. Nothing beats a significant photo for bringing back memories. Too often, travelers limit themselves to photos of tourist views and selfies taken in front of tourist views.

Taking pictures of a journey has been a hallmark of travel since the camera was invented. These magic boxes have changed a lot over the years. With a good smart phone taking quality pictures is easier than ever.

When Tom and I traveled in the van in the early 1970s, we carried a large SLR (single lens reflex) Pentax camera. We had bags of unexposed slide film and two camera lenses, one a twelve inch long telescopic. Tom loved taking pictures of local people using the telescopic lens because he could shoot from an anonymous distance. I also had a small, camera of my own to take snapshots.

We soon found that getting film developed in places along the way was very expensive and time-consuming. The 24-hour film developers making their appearance in the US could not yet be found anywhere else. In Guadalajara, Mexico, where we settled in for a multi-week car repair lay-over, I had three rolls of my camera film developed. A note in our cost journal says, “$185.00 [pesos]- never again!” In 1971 dollars, this equaled the equivalent of US $100.00 today.  At the 1971 exchange rate of 12.5 pesos to a US dollar, this would have been $14.80 US, enough at that time to buy 75 boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese, about 400 eggs, or three restaurant meals for two.

Two years later, when we finally had the film developed, there were hundreds of prints and slides to review. Sometimes the photos were not as beautiful as we wished. If they were badly framed, out of focus, or over exposed, retaking the shot was not an option.

These days it is a delight to look at digital photos immediately to check their quality. With a small, easy to use, smart phone, it’s easy to end up with great images.

However, the ease of modern digital photography seems to bring out a tendency to take tons of shots and sort them later. Have you ever looked at your travel photos and wondered, “Why did I take this?” Though views of famous landmarks or a selfie of you and your travel companions enjoying a late afternoon glass of wine are nice, consider finding subjects that go beyond the usual.

I like to create a series of photos that illustrates something that really fascinates me. I am a foodie, so I love to take shots of café meals or a still life of the groceries that will become a picnic. My favorite place to take pictures is at local outdoor markets. Piles of produce and condiments vary depending on the location and the season. Their vivid colors bring back mouth- watering memories.











Do you love flowers? Why not take close ups of flowers you see along the way—anything from a display at flower shop to a lone daisy poking up between the stones of an ancient wall. Or perhaps, you are mad for purple. You could snap studies of every purple thing you see on your trip?



Sometimes one item, even something a bit weird, can bring out cultural differences on a journey. When I traveled with teenage Girl Scouts around Europe in the summer of 1998, one of the girls took pictures of all the different toilets in the public restrooms she visited. They ranged from an old-fashioned squatter in a French village train station to a modern commode with its own plastic seat cover that automatically renewed after each flush.

Different travel destinations may call for different subjects as the lynchpin for memories. In Australia, I concentrated on images of eucalyptus trees—their silhouettes, their bark, leaves, trunks and flowers. Or, perhaps like me, you have very eclectic interests. Besides food, I always snap loads of pictures of flowers, country landscapes I want to paint, and local people going about their daily activities.

Some years ago, I discovered picture frames designed to hold a group of 4 or 5 “snapshot” size images in a row. They can be hung horizontally or vertically and are perfect for displaying a group of themed travel photos. Sometimes I add a small souvenir, like a coin or a seed pod, to one corner of the frame. Each grouping of coordinated photos reminds me of a different travel adventure and brings back pleasant memories.

What special item would make a good travel series for you? Cars? Cats? Doors and Windows? Store signs? Children? Water?



















4 responses to “Travel Photos to Bring Back Memories”

  1. grace songolo

    love those photos!

  2. Katie,
    So many creative ideas for photos and the priceless memories they portray!
    Thank you,

  3. Crystal Kochendorfer

    Thanks to the photo capability of my phone, I no longer take pictures with my fingers partially blocking the lens or the camera strap draped down the middle of the photo. I still lack the eye of a good photographer so most of what I capture is for me to enjoy my memories. Your suggestion to select an item that would help create a travel series is interesting and I will give it a try on my next journey.

    1. Katie Slattery

      Thanks so much for your comments. I hope you will share some of the photos you take on your next trip! You can do the same thing just walking around the neighborhood. At the beginning of the Covid lockdowns of 2020, I took a series of pictures of specific colors during my morning walks. I’d choose the color of the day before I started out. That made finding things of the chosen color more challenging. Lots of fun!

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