It is official. Albania is a go. Knowing this, we had to face off with the airlines in our attempt at securing what I will call “feasible flights.” Flying, as we all know, is quite the adventure these days, but believe it or not, this little story has a happy ending. Thanks to my wife who took on the task with an absolute fearlessness. Me, I gave up a long time ago. I typically just resign myself to at least one day of “the suck,” as I attempt to navigate from one garden spot to the next. I assume delays, lost bags, overbooked flights, angry flight crews, unruly passengers and semi-functional airports. So far, I’ve not been disappointed in my experience. Did I mention having to SPRINT the entire D concourse at Dallas Forth Worth last week? With my bags? And I mean a full sprint, as fast as I could go for at least a half mile. (I made the connection, barely, and I’m still out of breath.)
We found GREAT flights at GREAT times at a GREAT price. We did. Well, she did. I sat in the other room doing this blog post. You know, the really important stuff. One airline, one stop, perfect layover time and all at a remarkably affordable rate. For those of you who don’t know, I’m in the process of reanalyzing my life. Part of this rethink is about how much I fly. My flying is down 75% from pre-COVID days and my plan to to keep to this minimal level of flying. To fly goes from “just part of the job,” to “only when absolutely necessary.” My belief is that we as humans have a zero percent chance of stopping climate change. Zero. Not one percent or two percent. ZERO. Call me an optimist. This does not mean, however, that I give up on lifting up on my carbon footprint. (I literally just got assigned a New York trip for Blurb this very second. A two-day voyage that I will extend so that I can maximize my time there.) (Jesus Christ, I just got asked, this very second, to do a one-day storytelling class for another brand and the brand is in a neighboring state.) (And another ask for a trip to LA later in the year.) All of these came in while writing this post. Okay, I’m a world-class hypocrite. I don’t see making life changes, whether they have an impact or not, as political, commendable or even that dramatic. I see them as a challenge. A puzzle or riddle that is forever changing.
Albania too is worth the carbon. I’m teaching, which is something I love to do. I feel like each time I return to a country the better instructor I can be. I also add to an existing story that I use in all kinds of educational ways. I use the Albania work in my workshops, in my print articles and Blurb uses it as well. So, it’s work that keeps on giving. I have plans to change up what and how I photograph on this trip. Out are the multi-exposures and in is the portrait. As we are navigating as a class, I will be slowly building a portrait series combined with either a written component or an audio component or both. This will add something new to my storytelling but will also allow me to shoot one camera, Fuji XH2, and one lens, 33mm 1.4. That’s it.
On this year’s trip we will visit places I am already familiar with, and we will visit places that are new to me. I find both equally challenging. I always put myself “on assignment,” when on this trips. Not my main priority by any means but more of a “you have to produce like you are working for someone.” This is pure motivation, and the fact I’m NOT working for anyone means that the worst case scenario isn’t all that bad. Plus, I feel that even having the luxury to teach, to walk the Earth with camera in hand, is SUCH a privilege that anything I learn along the way, or anything I create is gravy. Even if we were doing a journaling class, or just recording sound, the experience of travel is always worth it regardless of my photographic “take.” (Don’t forget the birding…)
The reality we face is that all of this can, and probably will, change. The last time we flew to Albania our flights were cancelled five times. It was only by fluke that we realized we didn’t even have a ticket from London to Tirana. We had a Hellish, five-hour transit via Heathrow where passengers and security almost came to blows and needed to be separated. But who cares? It all worked out in the end and what we face now is the reality of life in a world of war, COVID, and economic insecurity. All of this photography stuff is a luxury. Is it important to those of us who practice? Yes. But perspective is the key. Perspective keeps us healthy and wise.
Speaking of carbon, documentary on Netflix, Kiss the Ground. Some climate change hope, maybe.
This has really become a hot topic. I know one local photographer on a long term project about this, but Courtney white, whom I featured in the second issue of AG23, also lives here and has written multiple books about the subject.
Love this mate. When I read your pieces I can vividly imagine what you describe. Great stuff. All the best Dan.