Posts tagged amsterdam
Travel and Changing Lightbulbs

Travel is intensified living … and one of the last great sources of legal adventure. - Rick Steves

After living for one year with only the minimum amount of lightbulbs in my bathroom, I finally procured two new bulbs to complete the set. When I turned on the light, I was greeted with lines and grey hairs that I didn’t know existed. They had always been there, I just was willingly living in a semi-dark world that hid them from my eyes.

The act of travel is like changing lightbulbs inside of your own mind. Getting outside of your comfort zone opens your eyes and mind to things that you would never see. You begin to see qualities in yourself that you’d either buried or just hadn’t discovered yet. It’s like a divining rod for wants and desires.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain


Travel, Walking and Education

The best way to learn about a city is to walk it. I like to forgo public transit unless something is just really far so that I can see the everyday people at play. Mothers walking their kids to school. Vendors opening up shop before the tourists are awake. Men in suits acting mostly self-important in the grand scheme of things. Walking lets you breathe in the intricacies and feel the bumps in the road that tour buses, trams and Metros just don’t afford. It’s a cut-rate education in culture.

Walking is also one of the best ways to learn about yourself. Roads must be navigated, feelings searched, opinions formed. The sounds of the city can really hone in your thoughts, calming the brain into pondering all the newness.

Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions. — Peter Hoeg

Walking in Amsterdam led me to watching a soccer match with a group of middle-aged Scottish men in an Irish pub. It also led me to running into that same group of men two days later as they shopped for gifts for their wives, all who were on a different holiday on an island somewhere. They were boisterous, loud and welcoming to a person that they initially had nothing in common with.

Like changing a lightbulb in a bathroom, travel can be the illumination you need to jumpstart your life. Quit an unhappy job. Be more charitable. Reconnect with loved ones. Start better habits. It's a big world out there. Let it permeate your skin. Learn from it and be a better person.


Death Cab for Cutie's "Kintsugi" album was on constant repeat as I walked the streets of Amsterdam. This track in particular is haunting, lovely and has an amazing dynamic payoff. 

Paris & Amsterdam

I miss Paris and Amsterdam. The end of a trip is always hard, especially when you'd much rather be living in the place that you just came from. Also, it's like the surface of the sun in Houston right now and it was a lovely 65-70 degrees in France and The Netherlands, so that isn't helping. I know there's always an end, but I reserve the right to not like it. Here's a quick taste of my time there over the past few weeks. You'll hear more about the specifics soon. Everything was shot on my Nikon D750 using a 50mm 1.8g lens. Only having the 50mm option to choose from made me really think about how the shots were framed and just how up close and personal I got to my subject. You'll also find that I really like to take pictures of people taking pictures of themselves. It's a type of meta-photography that is a smidge intrusive and usually comes out blurry since you have to take it super fast. I'm not a creeper, just interested.

Paris & Amsterdam



Creativity and Travel

There's a familiarity to home that can dull the senses. Routine is often liberating and productive but rarely is it innovative. Every once in a while, your body, mind and soul need a shock. For me, that shock is travel. So today I set off for Paris and Amsterdam to see the familiar and breathe in the new.

Paris is less a shock than a reprieve considering I've spent a lot of time there, but Amsterdam, that's a whole new ballgame. I've never set foot in The Netherlands and the thought of Dutch words makes my head spin, which might be exactly what I need. I recently wrote about my struggle to find myself creative. It's a seriously daily thing. So for this trip I am bringing my camera but with only one lens. A 50mm prime lens to be exact. Known more as a portrait lens, the limited range will force me to get up close and personal to whatever I want to capture. It's an exercise in doing more with less. That's what travel is all about after all, doing more with less. You can only bring so much but options are limitless once you arrive.

Capture My Heart O' City of Light

My first trip to Paris, apart from a quick stopover in 2007, was in 2009. It lasted for 6 months and was one of the most formative times of my life. I learned how to adapt in a different lifestyle, how to fit in. My French is and was pretty bad so I relied on body language and my roommate a lot. I fumbled plenty, but eventually found my rhythm. I taught conversational English classes on university campuses and made a friends with a multi-talented singer/songwriter. Many turkish kebabs were consumed and I always had a sleeve of Prince cookies in my room. It was a simple life. It was a good life.

Paris was my first extended period of time outside of the United States and it was necessary. I had just graduated university during the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis. My prospects for a job were slim so I found myself folding sweaters at Banana Republic for pretty crappy pay. So I took all of my savings, raised some money from family and friends and left for France. It was rash, impulsive and I'd counsel anyone to do something similar at least once in their life. It introduced uncertainty into my life in a way I had never dreamed of before. I knew no one, spoke a different language and was distinctly Texan (with a slight British bent, but that's another story.)

Celluloid Dreams

Me in Paris, 2015. Taken by my lovely wife, Kim Thompson

Me in Paris, 2015. Taken by my lovely wife, Kim Thompson

Walking around the city was where I first felt the pull of photography. It was rudimentary, vague and probably contrived, but I could feel the buildings calling stories out to me. Odd signs on doorways. Alleyways with graffiti. People walking up Metro steps. All of it was a story I was just learning to capture.

Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and the author of numerous studies on creativity and international travel talked to The Atlantic in 2015 about what travel does to your brain. “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms," Gailinsky told The Atlantic. For me, travel is what melds the creative side with the ability to see things in a different light. At home we often overlook things we see everyday but when traveling, everything is new. It causes us to reassess our views and look at problems in a whole new way.  Quite simply, travel makes connections that may have been directly in front of you at home, but that you never noticed.

Finding The New

There's a certain anxiety about traveling to a new place and I've dealt with that a lot this week. Not only have I never been to Amsterdam, I'm going by myself. At least I won't be too embarrassed when I inevitably get lost and turn down the wrong canal. I'm really excited about my limited lens possibilities, because as my boss knows, I get lost in technical stuff. Should I bring the 24-120mm even though it's heavy? Maybe buying an 85mm could help get some great medium shots. With only one option, there's no second guessing. Just a man and a camera. Get closer or farther away. Bokeh or deep depth of field. It's all dependent on how I manipulate the camera. No extra technical stuff.

Amsterdam is new to me, exciting and adventurous. I think that's exactly what my creativity needs right now. A shot in the arm. Expect a lot of 50mm shots on Instagram in the coming week or so. For now, it's time for a plane ride.