Friday, 25 March 2011

Armchair traveller

As you must guess by now, I do take a lot of photos. In fact I maintain a spreadsheet which tells me how many shots I've taken with all my successive digital cameras since going digital in 2000. The total is currently just over 85,000. Of course I've ruthlessly edited this, keeping only around 50,000, but then there's all the pre-digital stuff going back to 1965 to be added on - prints, and before that, transparencies, mostly not yet scanned into digital form. I don't know, say a ballpark figure of around 70,000 images to manage.

Unlike many people, I look at past images all the time. And I can because they have always, since my teens, been meticulously arranged in accessible storage boxes (if transparencies or prints), or in a logical hierarchy of folders on my PC (if digital). All of the digital ones have several backups. I don't mean to lose anything!

Photography is one of the enduring passions of my life. How wonderful that transitioning never could make the slightest difference to my main hobby. Nor incidentally, to any of the others: books, maps, art, food, travel, driving, walking, clothes and accessories... the emphasis simply shifted a little. Put it another way, so far as my main interests were concerned, I was Lucy - unconsciously - decades before that moment in 2008 when I woke up. I had no specifically male-gendered interests, and so I haven't had to discard anything simply because it seemed 'too male' and would jar with a female persona. I didn't even have to change or modify my handwriting. It was all seamless; it must have helped me keep cool and sane through the process.

One of the practical functions of photography is to bring back memories and transport yourself to distant places you have visited. What a fantastic thing this is, when you are ill or largely immobilised. I can whizz at will to favourite foreign places and recall the exact moment. Such as in Rome in 2009:

There are no dummies so well dressed as Roman dummies. I also visited the Vatican:

That really is my photograph, but it's a technical cheat: I shot a programme about the Pope on the TV, and did not actually have a private audience with him. But let me make the point that you can take pictures for your own travel collection from any source that comes to hand. Why not? How else will you shoot an erupting volcano in the Andes, or a walkabout on Mars?

Italy stole my heart. I especially loved Florence. I spent hours there, just wandering around:

The Ponte Vecchio, and the seething crowd of tourists on it. Girls fascinated by the 'living statues' near the Uffizi Gallery. How I longed to be dressed like them:

There were gorgeous bags in shop windows:

Some girls wore as many as three bags at once, although that did seem a little excessive:

The freedom of wandering about alone made me bold. I found it easy and natural to not only ask for a tub of ice cream, but specify the flavours:

Ah, fond memories. Let's instantly change the mood and location - let's now go off to Hong Kong in 2007: Wanchai at lunchtime, and Kowloon at night:


I hope I've made my point. Even if I were bedbound for the rest of my life, and could never travel anywhere again, I have ways to see the world!


  1. So ruthless editing yields 50,000 shots out of 85,000, eh? :)

    I'm not surprised that your love of photography and your skill at it have gone hand in hand. My own life documentation, in pictures anyway, is both sketchier and less skilled.

    There's no such thing as a "male-gendered" interest. Some women drink bitter, watch football, and shoot rabbits. Some play football or even rugby!

  2. Hmmm. I can't offhand name an interest that is exclusively male, but I think that an obsession with vintage car restoration, or collecting old tools, or pipe-smoking, or train-spotting, might well, by many people, be regarded as within the realm of 'male pursuits' - just as knitting jumpers, embroidery, icing cakes and flower-arranging are regarded as 'female pursuits'. And yes, there were always some women who smoked pipes, and yes, men on sailing ships could knit. Let's not get into any controversy!

    I speak personally, and am not trying to convince anyone else. I would have regarded a strong interest in, say, fishing, as the sort of thing I might have to give up, not because a woman literally can't fish, but because overwhelmingly the fishing types sitting around in the rain on riverbanks are men and boys. A woman would excite comment and query: not what I'd welcome. So I'd give it up, and find something else to do.

    I do not say that every trans woman MUST give up such things, only that I'd personally be more comfortable taking up (say) birdwatching instead, which might ironically still mean sitting around in the rain on a riverbank, waiting for some duck to appear. But it would not occasion any raised eyebrows.


  3. I always thought the idea of coarse fishing an amazingly dull hobby but one friend from long ago tried to persuade me otherwise. He said that it gives you the chance to escape from the day to day world and be free to think in ways that are not always possible in our busy lives.

    I fully understand the concept but it was the sitting around fir hours on end, doing nothing, that I never got. I thought the same level of freedom could be found on a long walk with ever changes vistas to inspire and drive you forward.

    As for you sitting around in later years, I think from what I have read you will be always the one out and about looking for the next picture to take

    I hope the recovery is going well


  4. If we manage it, I do look forward to meeting you, Lucy. I've been preparing for much of my life for the time I might find myself an armchair traveller.

    My late father was a keen photographer and by the age of 11 I had been taught to develop and print my own photographs in the darkroom he'd made by converting the coal shed. By my student days I also did colour printing and my own E6 processing. The vast majority of my pre-digital pictures are in box after box of 35mm slides, mostly Ektachrome, though I went through a period of using an Agfa monochrome reversal film. I also have boxes full of my father's glass mounted 3&1/4" square slides, his prints, glass plates and other legacy. Almost all of this material has been stored in the loft of my ex-wife's house but in preparation for a move she is planning, this stuff is all gradually arriving at my house. I know brutal editing is needed before I re-store it in my loft and the danger is, I'll want to scan too much of it, to make it more accessible to me. I might have a bit of spare time coming up though!


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