The Little Things you Learn to Appreciate after Life on the Road

dirtytimesI love traveling. I love traveling to remote places and exotic islands to do wedding shoots. But sometimes the places I work at can be quite remote. Sometimes I have to travel to a big city, transfer to a smaller plane to fly to a town, be picked up in a jeep and driven for hours along an unsealed road to a remote location where a wedding is going to take place. It can involve traveling all day, having non-working amenities and dealing with local bugs and flies.

I remember one wedding I had to shoot at a National Park in the Pilbara Region, Western Australia that made me really appreciate all the little things I had back home.

I was happy to do the shoot as I’d never experienced the outback and had heard so much about it. It was only a small wedding and very casual – about 40 friends and family, but they were all local. I’m obviously not local, so had to spend a lot of time traveling.

First I had to fly to Perth and wait around the airport for four hours. Perth domestic airport is not like Singapore airport where you can swim in the rooftop pool or watch a movie on the big screen theatre they have. There’s limited shopping and expensive airport food. Although I must admit, it was very clean. When we finally boarded our plane, it took us another 2 and a half hours to fly to Karratha. Karratha airport is basically a large shed and we had to walk down the stairs of the small plane and across a steaming tarmac to get to it.

Karratha is a mining town and very small. They had just put in the first traffic light when I went there and I hear they now have at least six of them! Although I was told that you wouldn’t dare have a wedding in December because of the heat and cyclones, the Bride and Groom couldn’t have it any other time because of work commitments.

It took us only minutes to drive to town to get supplies and then I was taken to my motel as it was getting dark and it would be another two hour drive to our location. Like most motels, it had the basic amenities. A basic shower with the standard hotel style low flow shower head that you always hate to see, a toilet, bed and an old, wall mounted TV. But sleeping away from home is never the same as being in your own bed. The water pressure from what the motel’s brochure said was a great shower head was disappointing – they’re never as strong as the one at home (although I must admit, Karratha had good water pressure) and the water is never the right colour!

Being in the remote outback of Australia meant red soil everywhere. On my skin, on my equipment and on my clothes. Because of all the gear I have to carry, I travel as light as possible. That means I don’t get the luxury of bringing my own pillow with me or changes of clothes for when I get hot and sticky or covered in red dirt, like now.

At that time of year, the heat was almost unbearable and we left in a convoy for the two hour trip to Millstream Chichester National Park. There was an isolated Homestead where the wedding was going to take place, but all the seating, food, shade cloths and trimmings had to be brought with us as the Homestead had nothing except a beautiful backdrop for photos and museum like pieces of history.

Times like these, I really appreciate the city and its sealed roads. The red dirt was a cloud ball of dust behind us as the second half of the trip was on an unsealed road. The locals were used to the travel and lack of signal for their phones and laptops. I wasn’t. They were used to not breathing in the flies and keeping up their fluid intake. I had to be constantly reminded.

Yet, despite the remoteness, the flies, snakes and spiders, the wedding was spectacular, the Bride radiant and the setting perfect.

The following week, as I sat back at home, surrounded by cool breezes and connected to the internet, I looked at the most beautiful photos I had taken that day. Shooting in remote areas and being on the road for days on end, certainly gives me an appreciation for all the little things in life I have back home.