Under Lock & Key

My friend Alexis recently shared a link to “20 Entries that are clearly gateways to Narnia” – a true book nerd’s delight*. Doorways small and tall, under huge awnings of green, perched on a mountaintop, buried underground. It made me smile and think about my own photograph obsession: Doors.

Traveling companions will typically nudge me and say, “Kel, look at that door.” Meanwhile, I’ve already seen it and trained my lens on it. My obsession is well known, and well documented. What attracts me to them? The faded paint, the elegant scroll work, the patient graffiti, the beckoning door knocker, the idea of opportunity. As a credit to my literary roots, I see the possibilities in every door. Are they all leading to Narnia? Probably not. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth preserving in a photograph.

So here are some doors I’ve left unopened, and others I’ve known & loved.

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Photo credits:
Athens, Greece – Fit for a wise old fortune teller.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – Home sweet home: 1515 at the holidays.
Budapest, Hungary – Everyone needs a roaring lion on their building.**
Granada, Nicaragua – Brightly colored like everything in this town.
Granada, Spain – In the Alhambra fortress, topped with Arabic calligraphy.
Istanbul, Turkey – Hagia Sophia, a feast for the eyes and a meeting of 3 cultures.
Jerusalem, Israel – Gigantic door in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Lagos, Portugal – Tucked away on a quiet street in this surfer’s town.
Madrid, Spain – A stealthy photo in the Royal Palace.
New Orleans, Louisiana – The French Quarter is impenetrable at Christmas.
Prague, Czech Republic – A small synagogue in the Old Town.
Rome, Italy – Every stone and beam in Italy is older than my country.
Salzburg, Austria – Reminded me of the Moravian stars of home.
Vienna, Austria – Palatial, demanding and important.
Vigo, Galicia – I think it hides books & chocolate. Right, Nat?

* The original article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/entrances-that-are-clearly-gateways-to-narnia

** I cheated: it’s a window!


The awkward self portrait

Scenario. You find yourself in front of something memorable, and you want a photo. But you’re alone with your camera and what could be a crowd of hundreds (see: Eiffel Tower) or a crowd of two (see: side street in old town Prague). The question is .. can you drum up the courage to ask someone to take your photo or do you suck it up and say cheese for a self-portrait?


photo credit: Matthew Turtell

I travel solo pretty frequently. I’m ultra independent, I know what I want, and I prefer not to have anyone in my way. Coffee at 8 pm? Yes. Three gelato stops? You got it. Sit in the same seat at this café for two hours? Don’t mind if I do. But you know what’s hard when traveling solo? Photos of self.


this time, with the peace sign

I saw an outstanding self portrait a few weeks ago in Chicago. Morgan and I were people watching at the Bean and this highly comical Jersey Shore look alike was posing .. and posing .. and posing in the reflection of the sculpture with his iphone. Glasses on, glasses off, pouty face, smile, peace sign. I was SO engrossed in his decisions that I literally stopped to watch… and snapped his picture. I can only assume he was traveling alone, and was without a picture taker (or a real camera).

Asking someone to take a photo is probably one of the most universal gestures in the world, next to the peace sign, the middle finger and the thumbs up (in that order? who can say). You hold up the camera in question, gesture forward like you’re going to offer it to someone, and gesture back at yourself. The answer is usually “yes, yes, yes, photo” with copious nodding of the head. See? Everyone speaks English.

Travel is full of awkward moments.

The end goal is to laugh at them, and yourself .. eventually.

I shoot with a Nikon D-60. It wasn’t cheap. This is part of the reason I am sometimes hesitant to hand off my camera to others. It’s also proven to be a social experiment. I seem to gravitate towards fellow Nikon users, although this is certainly not always a) an option, b) a sign of a good photographer. Check out this awful photo taken of me on Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic.


what exactly is she photographing?

I took a photo for a pair of women, and thought it would be a good time to ask for the return favor. The minute she started angling and pacing with my camera I thought that it was headed for the cobblestones or that this picture was going to suck. Check out the guy next to me, even he knows it’s going to suck!

Thankfully, the next woman took the request far more seriously, and shot what I wanted. And she even took the courtesy second photo, for the win.


oh look, scenery!

I have been known to walk up to people with their arms awkwardly extended in front of themselves, just to relieve them of their predicament. I could have made a business out of this on the Triana bridge in Sevilla, sabes? Countless people in strange positions, trying to execute a photo from arm’s length away, and simultaneously not fall into the Guadalqivir.

Has someone done that for you? Pay it forward, please. I can only take so much.

Revisiting: A Travel Series

photo credit: Matt Turtell

While sticking my latest pushpin into the world map in my bedroom, I sat back and thought about all of the amazing places I’ve been. The furthest east? Israel. The furthest west? Arizona. My favorite? Yeah, right!

My constant travel companion over the past few years has been my Nikon D60. I’ve captured people, moments, and feelings through the lens and relied on images in the following days to serve as a reminder. I am a chronic journal-er and have recently turned to blogging as an outlet and a means of sharing my stories. After traveling excessively this past year, I decided to take some time and revisit the place I’ve seen and loved.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:

  • Turkey
  • Costa Rica
  • Aruba
  • Israel
  • Portugal
  • Scotland
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Morocco
  • The Netherlands
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • .. and of course, Spain.

I hope to include links to articles that helped me in my planning, as well as highlight some people and programs who gave me the best look at the city or country in question. You can expect an entry every few days or so.

I want to hear about it if you’ve been to these places. Did you love it? Was it terrible? How did you choose your destination? Furthermore .. where should I go next?!

Yours from Pennsylvania,