As a travel photographer, my work is often strictly planned. I research locales and book trips months in advance. I plan my itineraries well before I leave for a trip, so that I’m sure to include all of the well-known sites and scenic spots that I want to photograph. My travels take me to beautiful, historic, and beloved places, but I sometimes wonder if I spend so much time focused on work that I don’t get to fully appreciate the places I visits. I’m a lifelong traveler, but I sometimes forget to simply wander.
On my recent trip to the Dolomites with my family, I decided to spend less time focused on work. My family was with me, after all, and it was their holiday as much as it was mine. I resolved to spend more time simply enjoying the place and taking in the natural beauty of the region than being focused on getting a great photograph. I decided I would wander.
This part of Italy almost compels you to wander. From the lovely Val Gardena Valley to the jagged peaks and spires of the Dolomites themselves, the region begs to be explored. So I put my itinerary aside and my family and I took to the trails and ski lifts. In winter, the area is a popular ski resort, but in warmer months, when the mountainsides are green and dotted with wildflowers, the lifts are full with hikers and explorers.
It was during our ambling through the countryside that I found a beautiful peak, which I later learned was called Brunecker Turm. I found it by accident during a day spent hiking with my family. It was one of those fortuitous accidents that happen sometimes when you travel, especially if you simply allow yourself to wander. You turn a corner or hike to the top of a hill and you’re greeted with one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen.
As it happened, a winding path led up to Brunecker Turm. I hadn’t planned on making photographs that day, but the scene was so picturesque and evocative that I couldn’t resist. That winding path up to a Dolomite peak seemed to me to represent not only my meandering path that day, but the varied paths that each of us takes through life. On that day, an early summer morning in Italy, I was profoundly grateful that mine took me where it did.