When You Can’t Find 1,000 Words
My path toward motorcycle blogging started long before I even rode a motorcycle.
The Analog Social Media Influencer
As a young teenager it wasn’t uncommon for me to carry a camera around. I would take snapshots of my life daily life in the hallways of school, at friends houses, or wherever we were hanging out. I fondly recall having a pink Le Clic disc-film camera which I thought was so cool.
When my friends would come over and hang out in my room, we’d listen to music, talk and they’d flip through the pages of my tattered, sticker-covered photo album. It was almost like a ritual.
Social media was analog in those days but the core of it was the same. Take a picture, share it with friends and they commented on it.
A Moto Blogger’s Camera Evolution
When I started riding motorcycles that snapshot tradition carried on; first with a 35mm point and shoot, then with digital cameras in various forms from pocket cameras to a big DSLR.
Each type of digital camera had it’s strengths from physical size to picture quality.
When traveling by motorcycle the average blogger has to take into consideration the care and feeding required by their camera equipment. For example, I loved the quality of the output from my DSLR camera, but managing its size and “worrying” about it became too much of a hurdle for me.
As the years went by and technology progressed, my iPhone took over camera duty. The convenience and quality of the output from the native camera became the perfect fit for me.
And taking pics during my rides became as ubiquitous as putting gas in the bike.
See, Snap, Go
It’s important to note that I don’t profess to be particularly skilled at taking photographs. I have exactly zero training or special knowledge. What I do when taking photographs is simply snap what I like and hope that other people think it looks as nice in the little square as I did when I saw it. That’s good enough for me. I am not a photographer. I am a blogger who take pictures.
There is pleasure in this simple picture-taking process. It isn’t work which I make for myself. It is a relief to not get bogged down in the details. It’s: see, snap, go.
Of course this is the most simplified version of reality. When we take photos with the slightest consideration that someone else might see them, there is a little some’m extra that makes its way into the process. Because when we take photos and share them we’re doing more than just seeing for ourselves, aren’t we? It is more than just a simple time marking.
Motorcycle Blogging and the Photograph
Since I started blogging about my motorcycle experiences, photos have been an integral part of the storytelling process. And if the old adage is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps the photos do a better job of presenting the story than my words.
Maybe the photographs tell their own story. One of the reader’s making.
What makes readers connect with a blogger?
What is the magic that makes readers connect with a blogger?
That link often comes when the people who write stories hold up a mirror for us. When we can see ourselves in their words, they become more meaningful.
Some bloggers can succinctly articulate a truth that we struggle with. They can breathe life into nebulous thoughts that have been but wisps of smoke in our own minds.
What happens when a blogger has no words?
As a blogger when you don’t know what to write, a photograph can do the talking. A picture can become a punctuation mark or 1,000 words that finish telling a story. Or that same image can be the whole story.
With a photograph, a bridge to nostalgia can be built. The image transports the viewer to a place they recall.
And there is also the awakening of wonder about something they’ve never seen.
A photo’s story isn’t necessarily fixed. With no words to guide the reader, the narrative is their own.
The life and times of a blogger
Motorcycle blogging for me is more than just stats and figures about mileage and horsepower. At its center, it is the story of a life lived.
It can be hard to articulate its importance to me without sounding trite. With over 20 years invested in this medium, being able to tell my story has become part of my personality fabric.
Writing this blog isn’t a job for me, but it isn’t something casual in the sense that I can take it or leave it, either. It is an enduring passion project that goes through ebbs and flows like any relationship might.
At any given time, there may be hundreds of unpublished drafts in my blog post folder. Some entries are merely a sentence or a single photograph.
Other entries are long-form posts which are doomed to languish because they were written solely as a way of clearing my mind.
And then there are periods of time in which I don’t commit ideas to “paper” at all.
Blogging – Words and Photographs
The same cycle I go through with writing blogs is true of the camera roll on my phone.
There are nearly 6,000 photos on my phone right now. Some you’ve seen here on the blog, some you haven’t. Some you will see later on down the road, some you won’t.
And like writing words, it is unusual for me to go long stretches without snapping a photo, even one that is solely for my own enjoyment.
When bloggers don’t blog
Blogging dry spells are puzzling to me. They highlight the fact that I do not fully understand myself or my motivations.
I have an abundant bank of past experiences, photographs, and thought fragments to pull from, but sometimes I just cannot find a way to weave all of the threads together into a post.
I’ve been a million places and seen a so many interesting things. What is it that keeps me from being able to stir in all of these ingredients and sharing them?
There is always a story to tell. Always. Even when that story is: I don’t have a story to tell. The why of that is its own story.
Overcoming blogging dry spells
Often when I am in something of a blogging drought and am struggling to find my way back to posting, it is a photograph that will kickstart my ability to write.
By simply describing the who, what, when, where of an image, a full blog post can be created.
Motorcycle Blogging Inspiration
When you’ve been blogging for a long period of time, it is normal to go through ups and downs with your creativity. Some days you just don’t “have it.”
Maybe it feels like you’ve written about the same old thing 100 times already, or that your ideas lately are, well,… boring. These feelings aren’t uncommon. But they need be nothing more than a temporary roadblock.
Recognize that you already have the one of the greatest tools to overcome the setback in your pocket right now.
If you’re feeling stuck, look to your camera roll and get back to basics. A single photograph can again prove its worth – a thousand words.
See, snap, go? I drove to a sunflower field at 5am this morning and took about 400 images. All of them ended up in my recycle bin but only after viewing each one at 100%. Maybe I do not understand myself or my own motivations. You really are a very good writer.
saw, snapped, went…post some oldies. Would like to see some of the hidden treasures.
By the way if you ever run out of places to go check out Atlas Obscura: https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/united-states
As always, well said!
This is an absolutely wonderful post!
Elegant and on point.
The images you make are exquisite portrayals of the landscapes in which your life unfolds. And while you may not have any special training in photography, the value you ascribe to images and the years of practice have made you an excellent photographer. Added to the mix is likely an eye sensitive to light, balance, and story.
It may seem as simple as snapping what you like but I suspect much more is going on than you realize. “See, snap, go” is how I’ve long operated as well. I recently had to replace my point and shoot workhorse camera which has shaken the ease of “see, snap, go.” Hopefully, I’ll get used to the new camera and get back to where photography is once again a ubiquitous and transparent part of a ride.
Like you, photography has been a part of my blog for the past 15 years. The images serve many purposes, mainly to fill the story gaps that I am either too lazy or not skilled enough to fill with text. And in most cases, I start with the photographs and write with them as reminders of the ride — of what I saw, felt, or thought.
I’m not sure why people connect with bloggers. I recognize the connection. The best I can express is I return to a blog because generally some chord will be struck that causes me to think or reconsider what I believe. That is why I return to your blog.
Blogging dry spells. A terrible place to be. Friends wonder why I care since I don’t make a nickel from my blog. It’s difficult to explain the emotional and psychological value I derive from sharing. From transforming experience into a tangible story. So when I seem to have nothing it has an effect on me. It is, in part, why I began to create short videos. While I have no idea what I’m doing, I am doing something. And that has its own rewards.
Thank you for sharing your insights on photography, storytelling, and the mental hurdles you face. An enlightening post.
Photography, the recording of visual imagery, is essential to travel-reporting which seems to be what both you and I do. So emphasizing it, as you do here, is smart.
Why we blog or pause blogging is a deeper subject that varies from person to person. I blog only when motivated to do so and have periods of frenzy (more than one post a day) and dormancy (nothing for weeks). That’s a reflection of me and my situation. You? Probably the same. When you feel motivated to share, you do; when you don’t, you don’t. Certainly, as you say, you have ample raw material for posts but it’s motivation that’s elusive and uncontrollable. Facing that question probably answers your question.