Travel Photos: The Textures Series

May 5, 2022

I ALWAYS take the same picture. Or the same style of picture. There’s a theme, for lack of a better term, that I’m drawn to. Usually it’s a wall or a door or other flat surface, the weatherbeaten elements of which are similar: sun-cracked paint, peeling artwork, crumbling plaster or fissured stucco.

I call these my “texture” pictures, though it’s not that simple. It’s a combination of things: textures, patterns, geometry, colors — with a certain something that pulls it all together. In other words, there needs to be aesthetic merit to the shot. As to which make the cut and which don’t, there’s no formal criteria. In the words of Potter Stewart, I know it when I see it.

They’re travel photos by default, and I’ll go ahead and label the locations. But contextually they don’t say much. Most of them could be anywhere. Most focus on a single surface, but a few, as you’ll see, such as number 20, are more complicated.

Click any photo for a full-screen view.


1. Blue window.   Accra, Ghana.

2. Remnants.   Kandy, Sri Lanka.

3. Shutters.   St. Louis, Senegal.

4. Green door.   Lisbon, Portugal.

5. Norwegian wood.   Oslo, Norway.

6. Brown.   Big Sur, California.

7. Splinter.   Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

8. Checkerboard.   Kyoto, Japan.

9. Earth Tones.   Dubrovnik, Croatia.

10. Wall and Shutters.   Cairo, Egypt.

11. Brown.   Accra, Ghana.

12. Stones and Moss.   Boston Harbor.

13. Bud Light.   Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge.

14. Vive al Paro.   Santa Marta, Colombia.

15. Post no Bills.   Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

16. Facades.   Porto, Portugal.

17. Deicing Fluid.   Boeing 757, New York City.

18. French Quarter 1.   New Orleans.   The wash of the colors make this photo appear blurry. It’s actually in normal focus.

19. French Quarter 2.   New Orleans.

20. Norwegian Blue.   Tromso, Norway.

21. Fertility Art.   Near Paro, Bhutan.

22. Cotraco.   Valetta, Malta.

23. Storefront, Ponta Delgada.   Sao Miguel island, Azores.

24. Alewife 1: Blisters.   Alewife T station, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

25. Alewife 2: Silver.   Alewife T station, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

26. Corrugated Wall.   Dakar, Senegal.

27. Boy and Doorway.   Near Monrovia, Liberia. This is the only picture of the set featuring a person.

28. Granary Door.   Noratus, Armenia.

29. Faucets and Feet.   Kowloon, Hong Kong.

30. Doorway and Thatch.   Ada, Ghana.

I don’t seek out these shots; if one appears, I take it. They more or less happen on their own.

If you’re wondering about enhancement, a few of the pictures have been cropped, and in some cases the shadows and color saturation have been tinkered with. But only slightly, to replicate what I saw with the naked eye. “No overdubs or funny stuff,” to quote the liner notes from Zen Arcade.

My favorite of the series is number 26, showing the paint-dappled wall of a small shop near the U.S. embassy in Dakar. It was taken in August, 2021, as I was walking to a restaurant with two of my colleagues. The canvas, if you will, is the side of an old shipping container. I remember passing this spot, then backtracking to get the picture, telling my friends I’d catch up with them in a minute.

My second favorite is number 14, the shot of the myriad posters in Santa Marta, Colombia. Believe it or not this picture was taken at night, with a streetlight providing the illumination.

I’m also fond of number 25, showing the silver-painted concrete inside the Alewife subway station in Cambridge, as well as number 30, last picture in the set, of the doorway in Ada, a waterfront village in Ghana, about two hours east of Accra.

More of my travel photos can be viewed HERE.

My Instagram stream is HERE.


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11 Responses to “Travel Photos: The Textures Series”
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  1. UHF says:

    Fantastic shots. You’re looking for the same as I – rust, peeling paint, remenants weathered by time.

  2. TG2May27Baby! says:

    It’s what one would expect!

    Is there a digital coffee table book with even more lying around somewhere?

  3. Jim says:

    Dear Patrick: Besides offering your readers a regular education about all things aviation, it is wonderful to learn that you stop to look around and really pay attention during your travels. I find that traveling anywhere with a camera always forces me to be more observant of the patterns, textures, and light around me, and this is a way that photography makes life far more interesting. You have managed to capture each of these things in some really excellent shots. Many thanks for sharing them—-more of them will always be welcome when appropriate….

    All the best!

  4. UncleStu says:

    You have a good eye, Patrick. Well composed as well. Photographer’s goals should include telling a story, and evoking an emotion, in addition to being pleasing to the eye. Your photography does all that.

  5. Rod says:

    Good selection. I have much the same bent, & also just know it when I see it. Lisbon really is the place of places for this.
    That photo from Bhutan, is that really serious fertility art, or just a particularly well done bit of graffiti? I have a much cruder rendering of same I snapped from a wall in Hanoi back in 1988, when it was a poor & dreary place. And I thought of that song by Bruce uhh.. Cockburn.

    • Patrick says:

      Bhutan is literally wall-to-wall with penis-themed fertility art. It’s everywhere. I have a dozen of so similar shots, but that was the best one for the series.

  6. Nick says:

    I really liked a lot of these. #28 is just fantastic in its use of color, and #1 is almost like a painting.

    I think these resonate with me, in part, because I often shoot similar scenes in similar ways, but in B&W, (e.g. I can’t usually get the colors to work the way I want them to, but I am often stricken by the geometry, textures, and light of certain scenes, so I default to monochrome.

  7. Michael Kennedy says:

    Those are GREAT!

  8. Stephanie says:

    I like the Big Sur one–the pattern reminds me of the California bear on our state flag.

  9. Savannah says:

    Love that you captured the famous stapler barnacles of Chapel Hill. I have quite a few gig posters on my wall that hung on those staples.

    Lisbon is my favorite though – the almost entire palette of green is represented there, and they don’t even clash! Magnificent. The Bud Lights get an honorable mention. The vestiges of a happy memory, an evening of mirth with friends. (If there ARE memories; we don’t know just how many Bud Lights were involved.)

  10. Eric Rush says:

    I had to go back to look at #15 to figure out what it was.
    The only one that left me cold was the beer (if that’s what you consider that brand) cans.