Pictures can often turn out be a hollow reminder of what was a majestic experience. All too frequently they fail to capture the scale, aura or feel of a place or event. And while they're great for those who were there as a reminder to trigger the memories of the places and experiences, they rarely can convey to others what that moment was really like.
However, every once in a while a picture not only captures more than just an image, call it a feeling or aura, but even manages to evoke new emotions from someone who was "there". After every tour I've come home to find at least one picture that just blew me away ... one picture that I may have even forgotten I'd taken (or swear I couldn't possibly have taken ... *eerie feeling*) ... or a picture that turned out so differently than I remembered it being (for better or for worse!) that it became a conversation piece and memory in itself.
So I've decided to share some of my favorite photographs from our tours (most taken by me, but also several gorgeous shots taken by other tour members) along with a little background or the story behind each picture.
Everyone knows what the Colosseum looks like from the outside (even people who've never been to Rome have seen one of the characteristic shots of this famous building), but it can be very hard to describe the ominous nature of the interior of this building to those who have never been in it. The stadium area is less difficult to get a feel for and to get great pictures of (even I took some nice ones of that part of the Colosseum), but the corridors and stairs are very difficult to capture without ending up with dark photos or mobs of people in the way. That's why I love this picture, taken by Jamie Lackey Stefko, on the Grand Tour of Italy tour in 2005.
Not even Jamie, who also took this photograph on the Greecian Odyssey tour in 2006, knows who the "Mykonos girl" is but this is an amazing photo, especially since it was pure happenstance and not a posed shot of someone from the tour group.
It was an irresistable urge that compelled me to snap this shot of the waves on the rocks while standing on the boardwalk in Eze, France. Although it's not a very easily distinguishable photo for anyone but me, it's still one of my favorites from our 2008 Paris, the Riviera and Rome tour. This photo evokes both a sense of calm and a sense of restlessness for me.
Although I remember the bus ride into Monaco (also on the 2008 tour) when this photo was taken, I don't rembember the shot itself. In fact, I swear I don't remember seeing this exact view from the bus that day, but who am I to argue with my film! This photograph is remarkable to me for it's exquisite, vibrant colors (inspite of the fact that it was snapped from the tour bus window while in motion!).
Another shot taken from the tour bus window while in motion was this picture of Mt. Vesuvius. The misty quality at the base makes for a great effect.
Here's still another photograph from the 2008 tour that has great colors and wonderful effects thanks to the morning light. Although some of my other shots from our motorboat circling of Capri were better planned and aimed, this one brings back the clearest feelings of what a bright, warm, breezy morning it was and how striking the colors of the water, rocks and vegitation were.
I never thought this shot from the 2009 Emerald Isle tour would turn out because it was so dark in that tiny room high up in Bunratty Castle. The armor and straw being struck by the sunlight look to me like a scene out of a movie. And I love this photograph because it captures not only a moment from my tour of Ireland but also the aura of another time in history.
This photograph from the Emerald Isle tour was taken by Christie Brook from our tour bus. The motion of the bus, along with the beautiful cloud formations, resulted in the amazing effects that make this seem more like a pastel painting than a photograph. This is one of the coolest pictures I've ever seen taken by anyone on one of our tours.
The moment I saw the horses being trained on the beach in County Clare I knew I wanted to remember that sight and that moment forever, but the movement of the bus and the extremely bright sunlight frustrated me and made me sure I'd missed out on a tremendous picture. I was near tears when I got the film back and saw that this photograph had been saved. It took a little contrast and brightness editing in photoshop, but now I have a perminant keepsake of the most beautiful sight I've ever seen.
This photograph of the bridge where The Quiet Man was filmed isn't a particularly tricky shot that I took for my grandmother (a big John Wayne fan), but it's come to be one of my favorites for the calm, purely happy feeling it gives me.
I spent so much time and film in St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, but this is by far the best shot I got, and I can't even take the credit for it because it's an easy picture to take. There's a place in the park on the opposite side of the pond from the Grafton Street entrance that overlooks O'Connell Bridge beautifully ... as you can see!
The Irish weather helped make my tour of Glendalough a truly spiritual experience. The grave stones, ancient buildings and landscape took on a mystical and timeless quality in the foggy rain to add to the already reverent aura of this holy place. The mist and rain also produced some wonderful pictures like the one above.