Photo Wanderlust – Part VIII: Serendipity

Photo of rays of light on a boat in the ocean off Maui, Hawaii by Ron Veto

© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Maui, Hawaii

Sometimes I get to places just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter. -Ansel Adams

We have come to the final entry in the Photo Wanderlust series and each of the articles came about from my need to travel and my love of photography. As a young boy, shooting the neighborhood’s everyday subjects proved to be a fun way to pass the day. The mailman, the Good Humor ice cream man and even small insects were all fair game. Travel adventures later became part of the mix and they not only offered photographic subjects that could be found off the beaten paths, but priceless lifelong memories.

For me, travel photography is the soul mate of serendipity.

The romance of travel is a powerful magnet that attracts my wanderlust personality. It is always tempting me and always calling out for me to pack my bags. The thoughts of what may be around that next never-ending bend will continue to spark my curiosity. Combine it with the love of photography and it speaks of amazing adventures and the excitement of discovering the unexpected–those special photo gifts.

Whether traveling to foreign or domestic places, the freedom of escaping is accelerating and my daily cares seem a distant memory as I focus my attention on capturing those moments in time. It creates a rather interesting dichotomy of being both connected and separated from reality.

“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”
-William least Heat Moon

Photo of a paddle boarder in Ventura, California by Ron Veto

© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Ventura, California

A 300mm lens can get heavy after a day of shooting, but I wouldn’t think of being without that beautiful piece of glass. It allowed me a chance to isolate this man paddle boarding in the magnificent ocean.

To always see the world as an empty frame ready to be filled with an image makes discoveries an everyday adventure. When I was younger my eyesight was better and I thought I saw everything, but I was wrong. Today I see more because I know “how to see” and what to look for, thanks to a photographer’s mindset and exciting life experiences. I compare it to musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Mozart. They have been known to convey this thought… I see the musical notes popping up in my head. I, as a photographer, see light, balance and composition in my mind’s eye. I too am blessed with the art of composing—composing pictures. For some it comes naturally and for others it takes practice, but you’ll begin to see so much more and you’ll see what others miss.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on,
deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Photo of trees at sunset in NSW, Australia by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

NSW, Australia

You can engage the viewer with simple lines, patterns and subtle colors.

Photo of lady sleeping in street with head on a can in Penang, Malaysia by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Penang, Malaysia

By not featuring the woman’s face, the attention was driven to the can–indeed an odd pillow. Practice dissecting photo opportunities and keep an open eye out for the unusual. 

Photo of soldier and casket at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia by Ron Veto

© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

The story is in the details that the photographer displays. A wide shot wouldn’t have been as effective in conveying the finality of this Hero’s last ride.

Photo of sheep in the road in South Island, New Zealand by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

South Island, New Zealand

All of a sudden the traffic came to a sudden stop. Life is comical, but many times you need to find the humor. For me this detour was a great photo opportunity. A great example of serendipity.

Whether the shots are taken in film or digital format, the medium is unimportant. It is satisfying the creative vision that really matters. It is optimistically engaging in the world around us and capturing its wonder. It is trying to look beyond the usual and finding the big white elephant in the room. The secret to the art is in the details–searching for those photos that may be comical or have a message that seems to be hidden right in plain sight. AND, it is looking beyond what’s on the surface and being ready and alert for those unexpected moments—serendipity!

Photo of workers on scaffold in New Dehli, India by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

New Delhi, India

In the third world, construction cranes and lifts are rare. Here the workers unite as a team to muscle cement to the top for this new building. It was fun to engage the group, and we all enjoyed the photo session with smiles.

Photo of goat head and butcher in Kashmir, India by Ron Veto

© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Kashmir, India

Selective focus helps tell the story. All the information is easy to find. How we present it as a photo is up to you. I decided to isolate the head and let the man with the colorful background play the scene.

Sharing Surprising Travel Memories

I cherish the recollections of the gentle people of Cambodia who would walk up and hug me for coming to visit their war ravaged country.

And I’ll always remember the poor Indonesian family who offered us lodging during a monsoon rain after our bus had broken down in the jungle in the dead of night. What first appeared as an obvious physical discomfort and inconvenience slowly turned into a bonding and rich learning experience. These strangers, who crossed our path just at that right time, were the magic that enlightened our lives. I wouldn’t have changed a thing, mosquito bites and all.

Photo of white cat and fish in Bombay, India by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Bombay, India

Contrasts make for interesting images. The little white kitten was looking for a handout among the fisherman. She got one.

Or the time I offered a piece of my left over pizza to a young waitress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Her position as a servant carries little weight in the eyes of others, so to be recognized “as a person”, from what she considered a rich man, astounded her! She accepted my gift, sat down and proceeded to enjoy every bite. She was so happy and touched, that when she looked at me, she started to cry.

And during another one of my travels, I was walking the crowded streets of Seoul Korea and noticed a partially paralyzed young girl in a rickety old wheelchair. She was wheeling along the cobblestone alleyways happily singing a Korean version of “Amazing Grace”. Of the many poor along these streets, something attracted me to her. It was her view of the world. Though disfigured and crippled, she still cast a glow of charm and optimism. I handed her $2.00 in US currency. She gave me the brightest smile I’ve ever seen. And she made me cry.

I reflect on those memories and so many more from over the years. I respect the fact that I’ve been blessed to do what I love to do. Because so many have touched my life, it is my sincere hope that my interactions with others throughout the world have made a difference in their lives as well.

Photo of ferris wheel in New Delhi, India by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

New Delhi, India

I have shown this photo many times and no one really sees the motors that power this Ferris wheel.
The men in the center are like human hamsters on a wheel. You can see the world and then you can reallysee the world. Look close for those fun life images.

Both travel and photography require a passion for adventure, a sense of humor, a creative drive, and the key ingredient of getting along with people. I would like to leave this series with that thought. Make fortunate discoveries of your own while looking for something else! Feed the wanderlust beast within yourself and enjoy the ride.

Photo of Buddha at Ko Samui Island, Thailand by Ron Veto

© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Ko Samui Island, Thailand

The bamboo scaffold added some texture and interest to this sunset silhouette of Buddha getting a facelift. To me it represents hope and rebirth.

Photography has offered me sweet “Serendipity” in so many ways and for so many years. A simple picture can change the way a person sees the world. Many times the photographer is the person changed. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

My Nikon, a bottle of water, my hard-boiled eggs, a banana and some toilet paper….that’s where it started and that’s where it ends. Good to go! See you at the airport.

“In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. … In other words, I don’t improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable.” – John Steinbeck on travel


Photo of daisey and lady bug by Ron Veto
© Ron Veto All rights reserved.

Simply Serendipity: Los Angeles, California

Read the Introduction…

Photo Wanderlust – Part I: Packing for “Country Hopping” Adventure Photographers

Photo Wanderlust – Part II: Preparing for a “Country Hopping” Photo Adventure

Photo Wanderlust – Part III: Security for a “Country Hopping” Photo Adventure

Photo Wanderlust – Part IV: Bus Travel for a “Country Hopping” Photo Adventure

Photo Wanderlust – Part V: “Hunting People”

Photo Wanderlust – Part VI: “Photo Shooting Strategy”

Photo Wanderlust – Part VII: “Shooting Silhouettes”

by Ron Veto

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All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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