to click or not to click.

Someone once told me not to take too many photos of inanimate objects. She said, after time they lose their significance.


We have been cycling for 5 weeks, and looking back at the photos from these 5 weeks makes me realize a few things. Most notably that many of the cities and rides are beginning to blur. Which ride was that? What city? Remember the place where there were cows standing across the bike path? Where was that really great Italian restaurant?

We have been to so many cities, hotels and homes (where we rent rooms), toured shops and rode over countless bridges. We have enjoyed great meals, many squares, stopped at bars to watch soccer matches and had a few matches of our own. We have seen piles of sheep and goats, umpteen cows, grazing horses, chickens galore, baby swans and even lamas. We have seen the inside of tourist shops, delft factories and museums; we have sat along canals and tried various tostis, beer/sodas and ice cream. In many ways 'Holland' will become one overarching memory. But how to keep some of it organized in my brain?

My hunch is that eventually, many of the memories of this trip will be based on photos---photos will be my guide. They will serve as cues, as a sequential foot-path of our trip. And I realize... it is moments with the kids I will most want to remember. Which makes me think: the most meaningful photos will not necessarily be the unusual landmarks (canals, castles, city squares), but of usual, routine events. In other words, years from now, I will want to see photos of us eating a typical Dutch breakfast, packing up our gear, sitting near a castle while we eat yet-another path-side picnic and/or playing a round of cards.

Which means here is my upgraded photo protocol:

1. Take pictures that today might seem usual or mundane including: daily tasks like packing and eating, sitting on a bench or kicking the soccer ball outside a tourist shop. Someday, those will be worth far more than today's unusual and interesting: the stone castle, a statue of someone important, fanciful gardens.

2. Take photos of the bad experiences, too. Not grumpy faces, per se, but scrapes along the trail, homes we sleep in that conjure up stories of wading through a sea of smoke---chain smoker---while being jumped on by a dog (who incredibly, was able to jump near should height).

3. Take photos of the journey. The trails, the spots where we sped, where we rested, where we stood over our bikes and enjoyed stroopwafels (which we now affectionately refer to as Scooby snacks).

4. Non family, non journey, unusual photos will include: my right to a creative license (I cannot help but take photos of quaint cycles leaning against paint-peeling doors with iron knockers OR well worn wooden shoes stacked uneventfully garden side). Also, enough photos of each ‘place’ to serve as context for our adventure--the cues I need to remember which city we were in and what we did while we were there. So yes, a photo of the cows and the castle, of the square or the hotel.

5. Think story.


  1. These are awesome guidelines I will be thinking of, too! You made me feel a little better for snapping a quick photo of my miserable kid after she was carsick in Ireland last week!

  2. Bonnie: love it! So glad you are doing that now, I wish I had more photos of my kids throwing tantrums or covered in mud. I am learning quite quickly that living hard and fully includes not just the ups, but the downs as well. And that it is OKAY to archive and file them away, because in the end that is really when our character shows and we dig in deeper. Thanks for your comments, you know we love them;).

  3. Anonymous6.7.09

    This was a very lovely post. I think you are right, but at the same time that first photo showing what looks like a castle, with 3 of you sitting on a bench in front of it, really evokes something and is very pretty. I wonder if you can caption them on the road (I'm sure you can, that's my lack of expertise talking) while the memory is fresh. Lucy

  4. Lucy: I don't disagree, but not sure how to caption photos while taking them. Maybe I should ask my boys---they always seem to figure out technology so quickly! It is amazing how much time it takes to upload all our pics; my bare-bones goal is to just get all the right photos filed by the correct month, city and country;). It is a castle! One of many, though it was accessible, it made for a GREAT picnic spot!


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