Detroit Metro International Airport, en route home from Seattle
The typical airport represents a bit of a conundrum for me. On the one hand, the express goal of the place is to get through - and out - as fast as is humanly possible. Long before you land at a connecting airport, you're plotting your journey through it: run up the jetway and into the terminal, fetch your luggage, do battle with the customs folks, clear security again, find the gate for your connecting flight, and finally avoid getting lost as you walk what seems like - and probably is - miles to the gate.
On the other hand, airports are the most rare of public spaces, namely those with a captivating sight at every turn. These places practically beg everyone within them to stop and appreciate at least one aspect of their sleek, efficient form.
But who has the time? Travellers are busy fighting time, other travellers and ill-trained airline and airport personnel in their quest to get where they're going. If they stop to smell the photographic roses, they risk spending more time en route than originally planned. I can practically hear the phone conversation when I call home to explain the delay to my wife.
Me: Hi sweetie. I'm going to be late getting home tonight. I missed my connecting flight, so they've put me on the next one to London.Okay, so I embellished the wife part a little. All right, a lot. She'd never do the fish sandwich thing. But this scenario does highlight the risks of stopping to capture scenes in an airport.
My wife: I'm so sorry to hear that. What happened? Did your first flight run into thunderstorms again?
Me: Thankfully, no. But I was futzing around the terminal with my camera. I lost all track of time and, because I had the volume cranked up on my iPod while I was shooting, I didn't hear them calling my name just before the plane pushed back. Silly me.
My wife: Silly you, indeed. I'll leave a fish sandwich on the kitchen table in case you're hungry when you get home. Nice job setting priorities, buddy.
As you can see, I still managed to grab this late-afternoon-shadows-through-the-window image as I walked the long corridor to my connecting flight. It took just a few seconds to drop my bag and snap off a few images. The corridor itself can be a sterile, lonely place. But that afternoon, the warming sun on the window frame made for a geometry that I could not pass up.
At that moment, my head was filled with thoughts of coming home, of seeing my wife and kids after too many days away, of swapping an overwhelmingly huge and lonely space for the welcoming comforts of our home. The light caught my eye, as did the picture it painted on the long, narrow floor. So I had to stop, even if I only had a quick minute to take in the scene.
Your turn: What stops you in your tracks and compels you to take out your camera?