It might sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but there’s times when looking forward to going back is very apt. I’m very fortunate in that I get to travel quite a bit with my work, and whether that be locally, around the country or further afield I can honestly say that I look forward to revisiting locations, regions, and countries that I have been to before with my camera just as much as I get enthused about visiting and working somewhere new. In a week or so I’ll be off to Skomer once again, the first of 2 overnight trips once more this year, this first visit as part of a Natures Images trip I’m running but the second with personal project goals in mind. I think this will be the 6th summer on the trot that I have stayed there this many times, and it’s not simply because I love my Seabirds or that I can’t define my seasons any other way either!
I’ve tried to rationalise it and it’s definitely more than just the familiar or safe that appeals to me; I think it’s more like a birder working or knowing their “patch”, except for me they are multiple and varied in terms of thier location and often visited at certain times of the year only. With the familiar comes complacency though and it’s one of the easiest traps to fall into in wildlife photography as it leads to similar material routinely captured, and I think this is what keeps me on my toes and why I enjoy re-visiting places time and again: I know them well, I know how they work and as a consequence I look for and can spot the subtle changes that inevitably occur over time and can respond accordingly. As a result fresh material is nearly always achieved, fresh experiences are added to my life and that little bit more understanding of how certain habitats and species work achieved.
One place I am really looking forward to going back to next year is Svalbard. Last summer I enjoyed an amazing 3 and a bit weeks co-running a trip on the tough ocean-going yacht Jonathan 4. The habitat and species were all I could have expected and more, and some of the interactions will live long in the memory as well as on the hard drive I filled up from the trip too! We’re running a similar Arctic Adventure trip there again next year and I’m absolutely certain that this too will fall into the Skomer camp in terms of finding the new based on the experience of the old as well, and now that the initial planning is done and places beginning to sell then I find myself looking further forward for sure, but still relishing going back.