Field Trip: Exploring Bahrain and Amsterdam with Jennifer Joiner

Field Trip: Exploring Bahrain and Amsterdam with Jennifer Joiner

All photos from this sponsored Field Trip are courtesy of Jennifer Joiner. All photos were edited with the Summit presets.


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Traveling and seeing the world is a lifelong dream of mine that I was finally able fulfill in part this past May.  It seemed so surreal to me that it was actually happening -- I was filled with fear, anxiety and joy at the thought and was waiting for something that would prevent it from happening but it happened! 

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The preparation for my trip to Bahrain and Amsterdam was exhausting.  For me to go, I had to bring life-sustaining intravenous nutrition with me, this meant I needed to pack twenty bags of one-litre bags of nutrients that were specially prepared for me to be able to travel.  On top of this, I needed to also bring twenty one-litre bags of intravenous fluids, IV vitamins that had to be refrigerated and all the supplies to go with it. With this, I decided to pack as lightly as possible and only brought one body, the 5D MKIII and one lens, the Sigma 35mm Art.  It seemed once again my health was dictating how things were going to go but I refused to back down. 

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After hours upon hours of preparation and about ten hours of phone calls to TSA, my doctors, pharmacy, airlines, etc.; I was boarding my plane with both joy and fear in my heart.  I knew, inside, this was probably going to be my one and only chance to experience the life, history, and culture the world had to offer.

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During my visit to Bahrain, Ramadan was still being celebrated and I only had two and a half days to explore the culture. I decided that I wanted to visit the Al Fateh Grand Mosque.  The Grand Mosque houses 7,000 worshipers and is the largest in the world. It was skillfully designed with grand care. The marble throughout is from Italy and all the glass was hand-blown in Austria. Our guide through the Mosque was so kind and informative. She showed a side of Islam that stereotyping has blinded us of today.  

When I returned home and was culling through my images I realized I had captured an image of one of the wall scones that reflected the entire mosque in the glass, it is truly one of my favorites from the trip.

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One of my favorite pictures from the trip was at a local grocery store. The smallest things open our eyes to how similar and yet different we are in our small world. The image is of the large rows of spices open in containers like ice-cream. It was so esthetically pleasing to see the rows of colors and textures.  

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My time in Bahrain was short but so eye-opening.  I saw a side to a culture that is often thought of negatively.  I fell in love not only with the textures of the walls, the intricate details in clothing, rugs, furniture, and art but with the people who showed me compassion during my trip. One Saudi Arabian woman helped my daughters and me as we entered through customs, speaking for us, and making the processes so much easier than it truly could have been. The guide at the mosque opened up about what it is truly like to be a woman in an Islamic culture.  Meeting these women have benefited my life in such a heartwarming way.

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As I boarded the plane to Amsterdam, I hoped that this next portion of my journey would be as uplifting as my short time in Bahrain. I had twelve days to explore the Netherlands. My focus was on the culture and the people, not the tourist areas, but the true people.

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We stayed in a quaint apartment in the heart of Amsterdam that was more of a residential area than a tourist trap. We would open the French doors and all of the windows so that the air flowed throughout the apartment. 

You could hear the families as they prepped for dinner each night, the children playing and spending time together. I loved hearing these sounds.  It seems we have lost this in America.  It felt like I was transported back in time where families sit down together for dinner each not and family is what is important, not money or careers. 

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On my ventures through the Netherlands, I was able to boat past where Van Gogh painted one of his famous painting while living there and capture that same image myself as if time did not move on.  I took a tour of the countryside with windmills and wooden clogs, The Hague, and Delft visiting the Royal Delft factory. 

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At each encounter, I wanted to capture not only the scene but the people hard at work. I loved seeing all the history and richness that exists in The Netherlands. I visited with a mom and pop Chocolatier, a cook at a small Irish pub, a shoemaker, and a Delft artist. I wanted to learn their story and show real life.  

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On my last day of the trip I toured the Ann Frank House, there are no images of this, but it left a lasting impression on my mind. Reading about it and walking where she walked are so very different.  

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My take away from my travels? It’s a very small world. Go explore, capture those moments, explore other cultures. Don’t go through life with tunnel vision. It will surprise you to know that compassion does exist in every culture, history does not have to repeat itself if we learn from it.


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