When things go to plan on a photo trip, everyone has a terrific time.
When things go wrong, they have an even better time, funnily enough. They also often end up with a great dinner party story to tell.
Nobody (and I am very conscious of this) wants to hear a landscape photographer talk about that time they took a really nice photograph of a sunset. I don't even want to hear about that. But tell me about the time you had a photographic disaster and I'll hang on your every word.
On a recent private photo tour, I was inadvertently able to give my clients (all urban Americans) a lesson in practical problem solving, County Kerry style.
I have to hold my hands up and say we got into trouble because of me. I'd hired a regular people carrier to ferry the group around, figuring comfort was better than four-wheel brute practicality, given the locations we were visiting. Which was all very nice—until I managed to get stuck in mud on a small back road in deepest rural Kerry. It was immediately clear that the vehicle wasn't going anywhere under its own power. The group resigned itself to a long wait for roadside assistance. Given the isolation of where we were, that could have taken days and involve a helicopter and rescue dogs. OK, I'm exaggerating. Nevertheless, the wait would have wiped out the day. Not great on a photo trip.
So instead of hanging about, I decided to go look for an alternative. The good thing about rural Ireland is that it is full of farmers. And the good thing about farmers is they have tractors. I told the group I would fearlessly set off to locate a friendly farmer.
Within a few minutes of leaving them, it started tipping with rain. The kind of rain that looks fantastic on the horizon several miles away. The kind of rain that is really, really annoying when you have to trudge through it.
There was nobody home at the closest farmhouse.
Rescued by a young lady
There was another house in the distance, so I dragged myself off towards it. The good news when I got there was that I could see a tractor. The bad news was that the place looked deserted. I knocked on the door, not expecting much. Fortunately, a young lady opened the door. She eyed me a little suspiciously to begin with, but as soon as I explained that I'd managed to strand a car full of Americans down a remote road, she relaxed. If I had meant any ill will, clearly my cover story would have been better.
The actual rescue was impressive. This young adult handled the tractor like she'd been born at the steering wheel. She made the thing dance. We were all in awe of the choreography. She'd never pulled a car out of a hole before, but succeeded at only the second attempt.
The real takeaway here was the vignette my clients got into life in Ireland. We could have waited for the recovery service to come. Instead, by tapping into rural Ireland's generosity and helpfulness, we were on our way quite quickly and with a much more interesting story to tell.
By the way, if you would like the opportunity to get stuck in rural Ireland, I have one spot left on my popular Southwest Ireland photo trip this year. Details here: Ireland 2018.