I’ve always had a personal vendetta against photography. Sure, I love looking at pictures while hearing stories of travel and adventures, and I spend an unreasonable amount of time watching videos of places and adding them to my bucket list of cities to visit in the near future. I design perfect itineraries with carefully picked pictures of attractions to visit, food to try, things to do. However, when I am told to take pictures, that’s a different story. 

When I was living in Italy, I was in elementary school and somehow convinced my parents to get me my first phone, so I could be “safer” on my class trip to Venice. My parents reluctantly agreed, and on my way there, they texted me to “take lots of pictures!” I came home with a shaky video of a glass factory in Murano and a blurry picture of a gondola. There were just too many activities and too many things to look at, so I had completely forgotten to take out my phone and snap some pictures. This happened again in middle school on my trip to Boston, and again on my family trip to Mexico, and yet again every single time I visited Egypt — to the point that I have no photographic evidence to verify whenever I recount my stories, whenever I am unsure about a particular memory or whenever I feel nostalgic. I’ve always thought I would be missing out on something more meaningful if I took my eyes off of the real thing only to look into a camera lens that would probably not even capture the beauty of what I really saw. Now that I look back I realize my mistake.

Aerial view of nightlife in Cairo, Egypt. Courtesy of Mariam Alshourbagy.

Summer 2021 is when I realized the potential of photography. Over quarantine, I would often go back and look at pictures of previous family vacations, but not a single one of them was taken by me. Despite being in some of the pictures, it almost felt like those trips were someone else’s. Fresh out of quarantine, I decided I would take some pictures of my trip to Egypt that I could return to later on. It wasn’t a sudden change of heart I had about photography but a gradual process. It started with a simple picture of the clouds when I was on the plane on my way there, followed by one of the city of Cairo. After not returning for five years, I decided that I would leave with a few pictures to return to mostly because I had missed this city so much, but also because I feared that it would be another five years before I visited again. I hoped that having something to look back at would help me feel closer to my home.

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