Archived Articles
 Archved Information
 Sinclairification by Grant Sinclair

Ten Years Gone

14 May 2009

Recently at a photo meeting, someone posed the question, “What kind of photography do you do and how long have you been doing it?”  The question went around the room and people answered with ease about the kind of photography they enjoy, what they want to improve and what they hope to learn.

The question that stalled most of the group should have been the simplest to answer:  “How long have you been doing it?”

I stalled, too, closed my eyes and had to think about it.  How the hell long have I been doing this?  Really, it’s tough to put a date on photography, especially travel photogrpahy, because it’s such a difficult thing to nail down.  The first time you did it was when you traveled someplace with a camera and took pictures there.  But where?  The next town?  A friend’s house?  Another state, city or country?

I decided that the first time I left the country with a camera and the confidence to use it was on 14 May 1999.  It was on a Study Abroad trip from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia for a one-month immersion program to Oaxaca, Mexico.

That was ten years ago today.

I had (and still have) my first SLR, a Canon 35mm Rebel.  I had two lenses – one of which I still have – a lot of film and a pretty vague idea of what I was doing.  Looking back on those pictures now, I can tell what worked, what didn’t and what I was trying to do.

To commemorate the Ten Year anniversary of this whole thing starting, I’m going to post new photos of Oaxaca for the next four weeks, as well as excerpts from my assigned journal I wrote on assignemt while I was there.

We’ll talk about how things have changed in the past decade, not only in photography and travel, but in social customs, awareness and our rapidly-shrinking planet.

But for now, let’s set the scene:

The year was 1999.

The Euro had just been introduced in Europe.  Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela.  Shakespeare in Love had won Best Picture.  People were listening to Swing music again for a little while.  The world had just been introduced to SpongeBob.  And I was, for the first time in my life, on my way to Mexico.  Ten years gone.

We start our journey at the end, with the Far Side cartoon that opened the paper.  Tomorrow:  Welcome to Oaxaca!





I feel a sense of obligation to write about this cartoon, as I have made reference to it constantly throughout the trip.  I think we all find ourselves in this situation more times than we probably care to admit.  The decision is never an easy one, and I have chosen the “Damned if you do” door a significant number of times more than the option.

The reason for making that choice seems to be experience rather than missed opportunity.  The worst thing in this situation is to wait too long, as the opportunity has slipped past, and you have gone through the door on the right without even thinking about it.  Not making a decision is sometimes making a decision,  I don’t even know where this really fits in the paper, but I know it does.  I decided to place it here, as it is an experience we have all had. “Should I go on this trip?”  “C’mon, c’mon – it’s either one or the other.”  Damned if I knew then, but I know now I made the right choice.

© 2009

Thank you for reading.  If you have something to add to this article, please click here to go to the Contact page and select “Contributing to an article” from the drop down menu.  Please enter the article title in the message field so your addition goes to the correct article.  Thank you for your contribution!