- Written by Dan
I would like to offer some further ideas to Matt Kadey’s excellent tips on photographing the people you meet on your journey (“Shooting the Locals” September/October 2006). As an advanced non-professional, I specialize in shooting documentary photographs of people who live in remote places. These people are naturally shy and suspicious of strangers, particularly strangers who do not speak their language. I have overcome all this with a simple and honest stratagem. I carry an inexpensive (and light) Polaroid camera. I start by taking a photograph of my guide and showing it to the locals. The guide will then ask them if they would like one of themselves, to keep.
Usually there is at least one who can summon up the courage. As soon as he/she is holding their photo, another one will want one too. I have had lines form as word spreads through the village. I would take one photo after another, with everyone crowding around to watch in awe as the image slowly developes in front of their eyes. I take no more than three packs of film with me to any given location and when they are all gone, some people will leave disappointed, but all good-naturedly. After that, the crowd disperses and I have become a fixture. I can now roam around the village at will, photographing as I go, without people turning their backs or striking a pose. One word of advice: if the village head or equivalent is around, be sure to take a Polaroid shot of him/her early on.
HERITAGE HAS ITS PRIVILEGES
If you are planning a trip to the United Kingdom, consider becoming a member of Heritage Canada before you go. Last summer, my wife, one-year-old son and I embarked on a six-week, 5,600-kilometre driving holiday of England, Scotland and Wales. With our Heritage Canadian membership, there was no additional charge at all National Trust properties. We explored ancient castles, toured old mansions and enjoyed some wonderful hikes on National Trust properties, all for free. One Scottish castle would have cost us over $40. Be sure to get your Canadian membership before you go—it’s about half the price of a British National Trust membership.
LATE IN THE SEASON
The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island is regarded as one of Canada’s classic treks. So much so that Parks Canada had to set up a reservation system a few years back. Now the trail has gained a reputation for overcrowding and reservation waiting lists. While this tip is too late for this year, keep it in mind for next year: many trekkers don’t know that the trail is nearly empty during the last two weeks of September. From September 15-30, you don’t even need a reservation (the trail closes Oct. 1). Best of all, the weather is often excellent then. With ample sunshine, stunning scenery, ample wildlife, but minus the crowds, the West Coast trail is pure paradise.
I drink water all the time, maybe 10-12 bottles a day, and it gets kind of boring, especially on the trail where I don’t have much choice. I always keep some Crystal Light Singles with me, so I can just add some to flavour the water. Kool-Aid has singles now as well, and trust me, they all taste great!