Flexibility and balance

Flexibility and balance sounds like the name of a yoga class but actually I’m writing about my thinking process while planning my next trip.

First of all…where to go? India of course, no surprise there. Some of my friends have been around the world several times while I’ve continued to go back to the same place each year. What can I say? I’m hooked. I wish I had the time and money to see and do it all but if I can only go away for a few weeks there’s nowhere I’d rather be than India. It’s home. Photographically, returning to the same place challenges me to see in a new way, to go deeper. Also there are long term projects I like to continue working on and new ones to start. For balance I’ll try to add in a spot or two that I’ve never visited along with my favorites.

Next…when to go? After talking with the airlines I discovered my favorite (most direct) routes were either fully booked or filling fast since I am looking to travel during November/December, a peak time. Hearing this I quickly reserved my tickets. Now I have no flexibility to change my travel dates because the plane tickets have stiff penalties but I can be flexible with my time while in India.

I like to prepare in advance, have some ideas of what I think I’d like to do but be able to change course at any moment. If something interesting comes along I want to be able to be as spontaneous as possible. I also like to move at my own pace when shooting. If I find myself in a sweet spot the last thing I want to do is leave. Flexibility is the great opportunity one has when traveling alone. There are many advantages to traveling with friends or a group but I usually prefer to travel on my own.

For those of you considering travel, whether for photography or other reasons…Do you prefer to visit new places or return to ones you’ve been before? Do you like to make plans or keep yourself open and see what shows up? Do you like to travel alone or with others? I’d love to hear your comments. Safe travels to all!

Here are a group of photos taken in and around Indian temples.

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  1. #1 by Georgia on July 5, 2010 - 2:53 PM

    Flexibility and balance…great ideas when traveling. I am currently planning a trip to Glacier National Park. Will be driving from AZ to Montana, and due to time constraints, decided it will be best to have a traveling companion who can help with the 8 hours/day driving ritual. It will also be nice to have someone to hike with in the national parks since I have not done so before and don’t really know the trails well. Always good to have a friend in case of the unexpected on the trail. However, the trip is totally being planned by me, my friend is fine without having to think about where we will go or what we will do. Flexibility is built into the week it will take us to get back home. No decisions made yet on which way we will go.

    It’s exciting to see new things and to capture them with my camera, but I do have my favorites, like Antelope Canyon in northern AZ. I have been there time and time again, different times of year and various times of the day to capture what feels like a spiritual home in sand and stone and light to me. Thanks for asking, and blessings on your journey to India.


    • #2 by cathyscholl on July 5, 2010 - 4:02 PM

      Thanks for your comment Georgia. Good to hear how you are using flexibility and balance in your travel plans. Definitely it is good to have a hiking companion.
      Even better to have one who will go along with whatever you are planning. šŸ™‚
      Have a wonderful trip.


  2. #3 by Thierry on July 5, 2010 - 9:48 PM

    Feeling home when traveling is one the most exciting paradox : coming BACK to a remote and unusual place, people you did not see for a year or more receiving me as an old friend, finding my way in a foreign town and feeling familiar with the details (where to get a good tea, where to find some some chill the warmest days…) provides me such a warm sense of being a world citizen for real.
    I’m always tempted to go to the same place… and forgetting the thrill of arriving in place where everything is strange, unknown, having to learn everything like a newborn, being challenged by the enigmas to solve (how to get a taxi ? why do people rush at this time of the day ?…). Discovering a new place gives a huge energy, but the step is always a bit more difficult.
    On photographer point of view, each step of the cycle has its advantage. Coming back can be dellusive, but most of the time, it removes the “exotic” layer. Nothing new, only going deeper in the soul of the place. Much more subtile, more maturity in taking pictures, more accuracy in the choose of the light, of the moment… But you need to know why taking pictures. To think more about your project. Or to get into another phase of the cycle : not TAKING pictures, but RECEIVING pictures.
    Discovering is easier, like a new born, the hand wants what the eye sees. Every new face, new light, new event is a potential picture. But like a newborn, you can’t really separate yourself from the world around you want to merge in.
    When I went the first time to Varanasi I took almost 4000 pictures the 10 first days. The second time, 300 within two weeks. I had to think about why I’m here, what brings me here, why I should take pictures… and finding out that Varanasi was bringing me back to my perpetual questions, following me like a faithful dog.


    • #4 by cathyscholl on July 11, 2010 - 2:58 PM

      Thierry, reading your comment reminds me of our first conversation about photography as we sat with Shiv Raj Giri at the Ganga. We were in agreement right from the start…both of us enjoying the time between photos, not wanting to rush around “grabbing” shots.

      Maybe you are psychic? The (temporary) title for my next blog post is “Letting the photo come to you.” Sounds similar to what you are saying about “receiving” pictures. A great thing about photography is that each photographer has different goals and experiences, different lessons to learn but it seems as though the two of us are on a similar path. I agree with everything you have said. Your words are an excellent addition to my blog. Thank you!


      • #5 by Thierry on July 12, 2010 - 2:29 AM

        I hope our parallels will cross again !


  3. #6 by Suchit Nanda on July 8, 2010 - 9:22 AM

    Hi Cathy,

    If you are going to be in Mumbai do drop me a line. It would be lovely to meet up. Not sure of your dates, but if you can see if you can get to the Konark Dance Festival in Konark, Orissa. And Suraj Kund Mela in Delhi/Haryana. There are many other events that happen around that time.


    ~ Suchit


    • #7 by cathyscholl on July 11, 2010 - 2:41 PM

      Thanks Suchit for your suggestions. I am not planning to be in Mumbai but will definitely let you know if I am headed in your direction. Hope to meet you one day soon. Take care.


  4. #8 by Stewart on July 27, 2010 - 9:08 PM

    Great new photos in this post. I am especially drawn to the first one.

    Regarding travel… I’ve always loved exploring new places, near or far and I’ve had a chance to visit some of my favorites many times over. However, when I was in my 20s I started dreaming of staying somewhere ‘exotic’ for a couple of months or maybe even one day having the opportunity to live somewhere like that, for a year or so.

    Now that I’ve been in Costa Rica for the past 4 years, I can definitely see the benefit of both exploring new places and on the flip-side, revisiting familiar places. I love feeling like a local here (minus the blonde hair, white skin and crappy Spanish), whether it be because I see a familiar face or because I understand the day-to-day goings on without too much surprise or confusion. It often allows me a greater appreciation of the situation or some details that I otherwise would have missed. There is also the added benefit of a deeper emotional connection to the place. Even today, looking at the lush landscapes, I thought to myself, this IS where I live. I AM used to this jungle. But minutes later, I pulled my truck over and took a few photos – it’s just that beautiful. I guess familiarity doesn’t breed boredom.

    For many, getting older means seeking some sort of comfort as well – heading through familiar territory on your travels can be rewarding yet comforting at the same time. Personally, I hope I continue to find the gumption to keep mixing it up – old & new – and the good fortune to be able to return one day to all my favorites.


    • #9 by cathyscholl on September 21, 2010 - 7:14 PM


      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
      I just discovered it here after a couple of months.
      Somehow you got past the wordpress “bouncer” that is supposed to notify me and hold all comments for my approval. Of course I would have immediately approved you but I would have also known to reply sooner!

      You are fortunate to have the opportunity to live and work in Costa Rica and it sounds like you are making the most of it. I saw the whale photo you posted the other day…glad you are enjoying.


  5. #10 by Bill of Wasilla on September 1, 2010 - 1:14 PM

    Excellent shots, Cathy. Rekindles my desire to go back to India.



  6. #11 by cathyscholl on September 21, 2010 - 7:15 PM

    Thanks a lot Bill. It’s great to see you here.


  7. #12 by FRANCK on February 20, 2011 - 9:03 PM

    merci cathy for sharing your photos…i am very proud to know you…and discovering your talent…a bientot


  8. #13 by cathyscholl on February 20, 2011 - 9:40 PM

    Merci beaucoup Franck!


  9. #14 by RUTHE COLEMAN on February 24, 2011 - 4:35 PM

    The photos are amazing. I have always been impressed wih your focus and determination when it comes to what you love to do.
    We miss you and hope that you will return to Santa Fe soon and share your experiences with us.
    Ruthe and Ken


  10. #15 by cathyscholl on February 24, 2011 - 6:03 PM

    Thanks for your kind words Ruthe and Ken. I look forward to seeing you in New Mexico soon.


  11. #16 by Justin Hannaford on March 2, 2011 - 4:20 AM

    Stunning photography, and what really grabs me is the sense of place. I have never been to India, but images like these really make me want to get on the next plane out there! Thanks for posting them.

    You asked a question about travelling alone and visiting places more than once. Flexibility is a great thing to have when travelling, but it sometimes is determined by the time you have somewhere. I like travelling alone sometimes, I did this for 2 weeks in Slovakia and found it an incredible epxerience. There were sometimes I was standing alone looking at a beautiful scene, like a mountain lake, wishing I could share it though! šŸ™‚


  12. #17 by cathyscholl on March 4, 2011 - 12:45 AM

    Justin, thanks for visiting my blog and for your comment. Glad I have inspired you to visit India!
    I can relate to what you said about enjoying traveling alone yet wanting to share the wonderful experiences.
    Luckily we have our photographs to share and with the new media (adding sound and motion) it’s almost like being there šŸ™‚

    Enjoyed your nice clean blog and site. Good work.


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