26 August 2010

how-to be a tourist in your own town

by elise joy blaha 

I've noticed that when I visit a new city I look at it differently - through my view finder. For some reason while on vacation I have no problem holding my camera unabashedly and wandering aimlessly. I also have no problem stopping to take the same photo with a film camera and my polaroid in addition to the shot I just captured with my digital point and shoot.

As a result, I have a great collection of photos, textures, signs, people and places from around the country and globe.

However, what I think is just as important, if not more, is capturing the here and now. Where I live. What my town and location looks like. Right now the "what you do" and "where you are" seems obvious and unimportant. But someday all those details will be easy to forget.

Celebrate your city. Below are my tips for becoming a tourist in your own town.

01. Pick a day (or an hour) to wander your city, neighborhood or town on foot. The slower you go, the more you'll see.

02. Carry your camera. Not in your purse or backpack, but in your hand. If it's out, you'll use it.

03. Get over the embarrassment that the mailman or someone you know will see you taking photos. They probably will. Just smile and keep going.

04. Look up. Look down. So often in our own cities we are focused on looking straight in front of us. At the road, at the mailbox, at the front door. Take time to see more.

05. Look up your own city (or zip code) online with yelp! or google maps and get suggestions for a new ice cream shop or place to grab a coffee.

06. Think about where you would take out of town guests. Into the downtown area? On a hike? To a park? Consider visiting those places on your own.

07. If you can find them, grab a postcard or two. Mail them to family and friends who live out of state (or next door).

My husband and I recently moved to a new town and have been taking lots of tourist walks in our new location. I'm taking my camera out of the house as often as possible and have been compiling a little photo diary of where we live. We're military so many, many moves are in our future. I'm happy we'll have a "tourist's view" of the places we've lived.

Have fun! Enjoy your adventures.

the how-to series was created to encourage confidence in the creativity and skills we each have to offer. i am excited to showcase your talents and unique ideas. if you have a specialty (and i know you do), please submit your how-to guest post by emailing me: marta at martawrites dot com. i will be delighted to feature your how-to in the future.

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden


ag. said...

i just posted about this exact thing a couple days ago! being a tourist in my own town is one of my fave things...but it's true, you gotta get over the embarassment and have your camera in your hand at all times. great tips!

Pink Frenchie said...

A wonderful reminder to love where you live. As a Southern California gal, I should take this advice to heart! Thanks for the fantastic tips.

Oh Mandie said...

I live in a pretty small town where things have just become "normal". This is a fabulous idea that I'm sure I'll be doing very soon. It's about time I started looking something new and maybe overlooked :)

Jill @ JillCanBlog said...

good idea. it's easy to stop appreciating what our own town has to offer.

Maryclayre Dick said...

I so needed this post...thank you! I just moved to a new town, and I really don't know how to go about discovering all the goodies it holds!

Hil said...

Such a great idea. I have been living in the same town for almost 16 years (minus 2 while I was in college) and I know I don't have pictures of some of my favorite places here. This will be a fun project to get started on!

Jen Holtkamp said...

great tip! thank you so much!

Mary Kathryn said...

I need to do this. I used to live in Seattle and near Nashville (that's where I grew up) and when people ask me questions about those two cities I don't have much to say about them. Even though where I reside currently may not be as adventurous there are still some amazing historical sights that I need to take advantage of. Thanks for the advice.

Cynthia (It All Changes) said...

This is one of my favorite things to do. Hunni and I just spent an afternoon pretending to be new college students on the campus nearby. I have great pictures I need to blog about.

Monika Wright | I Love It All said...

I agree with Hil, we live in a smaaaallll town and I really need to do this. This might make a fun project for Fall Break with the kids. And Mary Katherine...I grew up in Nashville and graduated from Hillwood in 1982. I understand it's quite a different school now.

Heather Scott Partington said...

I totally agree! I was reminded of this when I visited Yosemite this summer... I always look UP when I'm on vacation--in Hawaii, Yosemite, anything--at home it's always face to the ground! I try to do it as often as I can, even when I'm just out running. It's amazing how you can miss the beauty around you just by keeping your eyes on the things you need to get done each day.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

I've always wanted to do this, but yes, even though I have a camera with me at all times, I still suffer from "the mailman might think I'm weird taking a picture of this" syndrome! And also my husband "why are you taking a picture of THAT?" doesn't help things! Great advice, Elise!

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