Thursday, June 9, 2016


Skellig Michael, May 2016

MY FAMILY LEFT IRELAND OVER ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO and as of last week I was the first one I know of who returned. It felt momentous, and if I wasn't jet-lagged I might have felt it a bit more. I was there for a travel junket to County Kerry and the Skellig Islands, traveling on a bus with an international group of reporters, and if you've ever done one of these things, you'll know it's all a bit whirlwind; these photos are snapshots of things I caught in passing, usually while walking back to the bus.

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, May 2016
Dublin, June 2016

I've returned to travel journalism again after several years away. I enjoy traveling - a lot. I doubt if everything I'll do will be as rich in photo opportunities as this trip to Ireland (our main destination is famous for being visually dramatic - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a location in the new Star Wars films) but I'm grateful nonetheless for the chance to take my cameras with me to places I'd probably never go if someone wasn't paying for me to be there.

Portmagee, May 2016

The urge to produce postcards is palpable - it's usually part of the assignment - so I try to wander off whenever I can to find the sorts of things I shoot at home; those bits of urban landscape that look the same everywhere except for the dimensions of the houses and the makes of the cars.

Skellig Michael, May 2016

Then, of course, there are the places that look like nowhere else. It's lovely, of course, to point your camera in almost any direction and see something that prompts you to hit the shutter, but it doesn't take long before you start thinking "this is too easy," and start looking for something no one else is shooting.

Geokaun Mountain, June 2016
Knightstown, June 2016

I was definitely wrong-footed by the clear, cloudless skies that persisted for almost the whole week I was in Ireland. I had been told to bring plenty of rain gear (which remained in my suitcase) and had pre-visualized overcast light and low, heavy clouds. From the moment I landed I was greeted with deep blue skies and hard shadows from a relentless sun. I was overjoyed when I woke up in Killarney to see clouds again - wispy and tentative, but clouds notwithstanding.

Ross Castle, June 2016

Some places were drenched in the picturesque, and I'll admit that I dreaded them before I got off the bus. Killarney National Park and the ruins of Ross Castle, in particular, seemed to have been manicured and set-dressed in advance of my arrival. There's a point, though, when you have to just relax into the picturesque, shrug and say that if it was good enough for Constable, it should be good enough for you.

Muckross House, June 2016
Killarney National Park, June 2016

In the end, though, any day spent with a camera is better than a day without one. I probably drank more in that single week than I usually do in a year at home, but the food was surprisingly good and I learned that you can make really good ice cream from Guinness. I'd like to go back again, if only so I can see the place under a cloudy sky, the way I'd imagined it for years before I finally returned.

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