Strangers and Shadows

I saw a woman struggling to take a selfie in front of this fountain for a good 5 minutes. As a frequent solo traveler I completely empathized with her plight. I asked her if she wanted me to take her picture and she sighed, “Yes please!” with relief. 

Even with a flash, the light emanating from the background made it impossible to capture her face. After a few failed attempts I got creative. I took my phone’s flashlight and held it up as a spotlight while snapping the photo with her phone in the opposite hand.  That did the trick. 

We laughed at the production of this whole exchange. I asked her to return the favor and she snapped this photo of me. No spotlight necessary, just a silhouette. 


When she handed me back my phone, she gave me a huge hug and exclaimed, “Thank you so much for my picture! I’ll always remember this.” I didn’t get her name, but this little exchange was such a nice way to end an already lovely evening. 

Whether I’m in New York or abroad, I find a ton of joy in asking strangers if they want me to take their picture. Sometimes it’s a mom or dad with their kids and I wind up capturing the first complete family shot of their entire vacation. Other times it’s a couple on their honeymoon. Most of the time it’s a lone traveler like myself, and in that brief moment, we’re not alone at all. 

Saturday in Amsterdam

I’m spending a few weeks working out of Stack Overflow’s London office and decided to kick-off my Eurotrip with a little weekend excursion to Amsterdam for keukenhof, the annual tulip festival. It’s been on my bucket list for a while so I’m excited to finally cross it off!

I first went to Amsterdam when I was 16 and then again as a sophomore in college on Spring break. Here I am eleven years later and the city is just as enchanting as ever. I barely have photos from my first two trips (hard to believe I didn’t have a smart phone back then) so it was fun to photo walk all day and go snap happy on my iPhone and Sony.

Today was chilly and overcast, but the sun came out to play a few times. It’s difficult to capture just how beautiful this city really is, but I’m hoping these shots are just a warm up set that I can build on in the coming days.

I’m renting an AirBnB in De Pijp, a cute neighborhood just outside the main historic center of the city. There’s an amazing coffee shop a couple of blocks away that is my new happy place. Not only is she the stuff Instagram dreams are made of, but she comes with freshly squeezed juices and an eclectic menu of pork buns, pho, bibimbap, and assorted baked goods. The really strong wi-fi and coconut milk lattes are the icing on the cake. If you ever find yourself in the ‘hood, check out Coffee and Coconuts.

Despite the weather, we still found ourselves walking aimlessly for hours. Between the parks, markets, shops, and galleries, you can really spend a whole Saturday just exploring.

(I really want to increase the frequency of my posts so hoping to work in more of these photo journaling type entries on a regular basis. It’s 100x easier for me to share visually than the written word. I take photos of everything!)