As landscape photographers, we need to feel a connection with the places we photograph. We have to surrender ourselves to the smells, moods and feelings of a place and let the landscape pervade our own thoughts. I’ve been in Patagonia now for just over a week and familiar ‘feelings’ that I’ve experienced whilst here on previous trips (this is my 7th time here) have resurfaced. A place can be like that – like a familiar piece of music that you haven’t listened to in a while, you are instantly transported back to a mood, a time, a feeling upon hearing it. It’s been just great getting re-aquainted with this old friend of mine now.
So this week I couldn’t help myself, but buy a second copy of Bruce Chatwin’s ‘In Patagonia’. It cost me around £28 believe it or not, but I had to have it. Reading about Patagonia whilst here seems to be the perfect thing to do and Bruce’s book is a great (if highly inaccurate account) of Patagonia. What Bruce does with this book is set the tone of how Patagonia feels to the traveler.
I’ll admit that I’m not too keen on the fact that there are many lies contained within the book. His meetings with people who live here are often more fable than fact, but he does do a good job of giving you an impression of a place that is remote, lonesome, possessed, and one which can possess you.
As is quoted in Bruce’s book – Patagonia is a magnet for those who’s malady is ‘the horror of one’s own home’. Restless people come here and I feel I can relate to that. As much as I love being at home, when i’m there, I’m often wishing to be away, and when I’m away – I’m often wishing to be home.
If you’re thinking of going somewhere, I can think of no better thing than to buy books about the place. Photography books might give you some idea of what is there, but the written word has a better chance of helping you get into the mindset of what lies before you. Maybe it might help settle you into the mental adjustment an undertaking of this magnitude will have on you: going away for a prolonged period of time can be overwhelming. My way of life in Scotland is so far removed from many of the places in the world I visit, and I’m often confronted with having to rip myself away from my home life, to be replanted elsewhere. Reading books about my chosen destination before I go, often helps me with the adjustment and they’re also great devices to help me slowly untangle myself once I’ve returned home too.
In a few weeks I will be back in Scotland, in my old routine, but I will have Bruce Chatwin’s ‘In Patagonia’ to help me slowly disengage from the life that I am leading right now as I type this post from my hotel in deepest Patagonia.
Wishing you were where your heart wishes to be.