Documenting for Now and Later

Whenever I go on a trip, I naturally assume the role of a photojournalist. Aside from breathing and sleeping, documenting bits and pieces of the experience feels like my sole purpose. My camera is always within reach. Thanks to the era of digital cameras and memory cards, I indulge in taking as many photos as I want. Every night is spent scribbling down my thoughts with my multi-colored pen in swirly cursive. It is always fun to get swept away in the breathtaking moments and profound “revelations”.

Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

The pictures and the words always remain unseen until after the trip is over. Reviewing them again at a later date is guaranteed to be a bundle of tiny surprises!

I usually end up thinking to myself:

Wow, that picture came out better than expected.

A crow in Bryce Canyon National Park

Funny candid!

My Uncle taking a picture with his ancient flip phone!

Ooooh, that was a great spot.

Weeping Rock, Zion National Park

Once I am home, I will spend a few hours slowly going through the entire album, steadily comparing and contrasting all the photos. How do they stand on their own? How do they compare to the other pictures in the album? If there are 300 pictures to start, I start with a high level analysis and cut out all of the blatantly awful pictures.

Blurry? Delete!

Boring? Delete!

Duplicate? Delete!

Little potential? Delete!

Tree at Zion National Park

The pictures that survive Round 1 are copied into a “Better” album.

During Round 2, I zoom a little closer and check out the picture quality.

Does this qualify as a crisp photo?

How would I rate its uniqueness factor?

The best of “Better” will be copied into a “Better-er” album.

Natural Bridge, Bryce Canyon National Park

The pictures that survive the next round will end up in a “Better-er-er” album. This process continues until the only the very best WOW pictures are left. A quirky moment or an unexpected perspective, they usually catch my breath, heart, or eye.

Pit stop along Zion — Mt. Carmel Highway

It can be a challenge to choose the top 10 or 20 photos out of a batch of 300 (or sometimes even 3000). But I guess part of the fun is letting go of the unnecessary photos, so I can focus on cherishing the few special standout moments.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The very best pictures will end up in the last album labeled “Best”.

These are the very best moments worth savoring. Maybe a little quirky and not compositionally perfect, but they are poignant enough to make me pause…

and appreciate a slice of a second once more.

Moment of silence at Bryce Canyon National Park

Do you enjoy taking pictures and journaling on vacation?

How do you remember experiences? Through pictures? Words? Stories?

Originally published at on February 4, 2018.