After seeing the Eiffel tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome or even the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, you can't help but realise it is the people that have the biggest impact on you, while it's nice to pull out a photo and show friends and family you have been to some amazing places in the world, it's the interaction with people that seem to stick in our memory.
Whether it be that bad experience you had with the hustlers in the busy Medina of Marrakech or the newly befriended Scottish backpacker who decides running down a steep hill with a 20kg bag over your head at 11pm would be a fun little challenge. These sorts of encounters always seem to overshadow any iconic landmark that I have ever seen.
I believe this is because it is unexpected and usually unique to the individual, it's difficult to feel like you're having a unique experience when there are a thousand other people pointing their camera at the same thing as you. In saying that it might be safe to say those iconic sites are probably the reason you decided to visit a particular destination and will continue to be the reason.
So does it hurt to look beyond what in most cases are placed right in front of our faces? In my experience that is what travel is all about, in the words of James Michener "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”
This realisation hits me hard when I meet someone just like Pirate (pictured above). I met Pirate at a bus stop in the coastal city of Brighton, south of London. As a photographer I am constantly looking for interesting faces and here was a face that I needed to photograph, its a funny thing approaching someone you have never met and asking to take their picture purely because they have an interesting look about them, lucky for me he found me equally as interesting as I had an oversize bag on my back and a lighting pole in my hand which doubled as my walking stick making me look like the modern Gandalf. As I spoke to Pirate he told me of his love for Brighton which he considered his home town, and how he got the name "Pirate" which as you would guess came from his chosen fashion sense. I learnt a lot from this person, someone that I had never met before and most likely would never meet if it wasn't for my camera. Although a simple conversation, this is a memory that will most likely last the test of time, even better it was free.
Pirate for me was a perfect representation of Brighton and the people that live there and over the four days I was able to spend there I was able to meet a lot more people just like Pirate. So when I continue to travel the world i'm most likely going to stand in line and get my photo. Benjamin Disraeli puts it best, “The expected always happens” so once i've ticked it off my list I will start to search for my unique story that has more often then not been beyond the obvious and expected, I will turn to the stranger on the street or the small chapel that lies in the shadows of history, and consider myself blessed to be there for that moment in time.