I have been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places through my work. This year, I’ve already had commissions in Athens, Lisbon and Paris, with Venice to come in November. (Not forgetting London, week-in, week-out!) Some of the greatest cities in the world, and I’m being asked to photograph there. What could be better?
Here’s what happens*: I am whisked to the airport, where I sip a fine cocktail in the trendy lounge bar, before boarding the plane where I am attended to by stewardesses bringing me more G&Ts. I arrive in a beautiful foreign city in the sunshine, retire to a café for a fine lunch, before heading to a photoshoot at the most famous landmark. An hour or two later, a quick bit of sightseeing, a meal (and maybe an evening photoshoot) and a nice relaxing evening. In the morning, a trip to the hotel gym in the morning, another few photographs, then speed home.
You wish you had my job…
In reality, this happens: I get up at 4am for a 5am taxi. Doze through the airport, surviving on vats of mediocre coffee. Try to board quickly to ensure that my case, with thousands of pounds of breakable equipment, doesn’t get bumped to the hold. Land, navigate my way to a taxi for a trip to the venue (usually a hotel basement). Spend 8-12 hours taking photographs; spend the evening editing photographs to be shown on day 2. Dinner is room service. Grab a couple of hours to sleep, wake up and do the same in reverse. At some point in the trip, find 10 minutes to take the postcard shot to prove I was in another city.
And I wouldn’t change it for the world. (Disclaimer: I would 100% change it for the first version!)
But what’s travel without the stress and the stories? From the prosaic, like trying to find a photocopy shop at 1am in a strange town when you don’t speak the language. Or the deeply unpleasant, such as finding someone else in your hotel room or relieving themselves against the wall outside your hotel room. And the ridiculous, being trapped in the wrong country because an Icelandic volcano has decided to ground all air transport (thankfully, the last few were not experienced by me, but a friend…) It’s these things that people who don’t travel for work wouldn’t understand…
Everyone who travels for work has their own horror story. If your story is amusing and (preferably) clean (ish), share it below!
*patently not true