I'd be lying if I said that there was no such thing as a hangover from travel. Most people are aware of jet lag and the normal sense of just being somewhat tired for a day or two after returning from a trip, no matter how long or short. I've definitely been feeling this and am luckily getting through it with some good sleep and coffee when needed. However, I have also found that there is another type of hangover from travel.
Maybe it is just specific to photography, or on a broader spectrum, the creative type, but there seems to be a useful hangover that happens after travel. As a photographer, I find that my observing of the surroundings I have just been exposed to seep into my thinking when I return. This is nothing really new to me, but it is something you forget about over time. I have seen it returning from Portland, Oregon, in the same way that I see it now upon returning from Budapest. Our experiences, visual or social, become part of our general knowledge. We are now aware of things that we either have forgotten or never knew.
I've found myself over the past few days trying to look at my familiar surroundings of home as if I was visiting from another place. What might someone from Hungary think about the architecture of Augusta, Georgia? Would it speak to some notion of what the United States is to them? Is it what they expected, or is there a subtle difference than the preconceived notion they had in there mind before leaving home? As I walked my dog this afternoon, these were questions that I was considering. As new houses go up in my still growing neighborhood, all relatively familiar in shape and style, I wonder if there is a uniqueness to them that I no longer notice because of their commonality in my everyday experience.
These questions, though, I find to be valuable in the larger scheme of my own work. There is an advantage in being familiar with the common details of the small towns I shoot in, however I can't help but think applying a different way of thinking can help attain a better visual translation. In thinking about what was unique and somewhat foreign to me in other places, I find a guide to a more intense way of seeing places that have had a familiarity to me my entire life.
I've been talking with many friends the past few days, telling stories about the things I saw and the people I spoke to. We forget sometimes how common we are to other people. It's amazing how I have had similar conversations at home to the conversations I've had in Italy, Hungary. We discuss differences and similarities as a way to relate to each other on the surface, but also, subconsciously, to find a deeper understanding. It's these conversations, and the visual observing, that I find creeping into how I approach a project I've been working on for over a year now.
I will readily admit that a good bit of the time I spent in Budapest last week was spent being a tourist. It was as much a vacation as it was attending an opening of a show I was in. However my work and my experiences are never separate from each other, so I shouldn't be surprised that one of the bigger takeaways from this experience was how it can effect and further my current and future work.
The travel hangover shouldn't be something to complain about. Don't get me wrong, we all complain about being tired, and unless you had a horrible time, you still wish you were back wherever you returned from at times. I, however, am taking this hangover and filing it into the continuously growing set of tools I can use to better the quality of my work.