Photos can open new friendships

If you are like me, you look at your photo prints and photo books a lot, renewing wonderful memories of your travels. Have you wanted to make a deeper connection with some of the people you meet on these trips but are not sure how to do it? I’d like to share some ideas that work for me.

What draws me back to Europe every year? One thing that makes returning very special is the chance to renew friendships. You can do much the same on your trips by sharing your photo prints with some of those you meet. Photo books are another wonderful way to share – when returning to apartments I had previously rented in Gdansk and Warsaw, Poland, I brought the renters a book that included photos of their apartment and of their town. Here’s some other ways I’ve made new friends while traveling.

I’ve named this person selling flowers in the Sintra, Portugal farmers’ market “The Flower Lady”.  A few years ago Diane, my wife, took this photo, and the next year we gave her a 4×6 print.  She was so pleased she gave Diane a rose. The next year we brought the “Flower Lady” a 5×7 print and she gave us a plant.

The two men in the next picture are butchers in Oxford, England and they posed for this shot in June. We’ve already ordered prints for them and our friend in England will deliver them for us. We hope this starts a friendship.

Antonio and Maria are best friends in Portugal – Antonio has been landlord of an apartment Diane and I rent and Maria is his 92-year old mother. Part of our tradition is that we go to a local-type restaurant with them every year. We always bring them prints and one year we presented them with a Shutterfly-produced calendar that had photos of their town as well as of themselves. I urge you to try something like this. I think you’ll be amazed at the reactions.

Ernesto is a new friend of ours in Porto, and runs a pizza and soup business where we’ve eaten several times. Diane took this shot less than a month ago and we’ve ordered a print for the next time we see him.

We don’t like to eat out in tourist-type places, and we found this “local” restaurant in Porto. When there a year ago, we watched as our waiter joined another waiter for their lunch, with wine, as shown here. We brought them each a print when returning this year. Again, you have to be there to understand the amazing reactions to this small but unexpected gift.

I guess the bottom line here is – Don’t keep your photography to yourself. One of the great things about sharing is that it can open new friendships for you.



  1. Joey says

    Earl, I LOVE this idea!! How brilliant is this. I know what you mean about giving a simple gift as a print and the reaction is literally priceless. Makes one feel so good to have captured those images and to share them. I imagine you & Diane do meet lots of people on your yearly travels. How cool is this.
    I recently got together with an old childhood classmate, of course I took a ton of photos and I made her a book which she just received. She thought it was the greatest gift ever. We also met up with some local HS classmates – i should order prints for them of all of us together!!
    My sister had a big party for hher 40th and I had enough photos on my mom’s side to make a small book for my aunts and uncle – also my dads side. I asked my Uncle on my mom’s side if he could stop over for a minute – when he got to my place I said I bet you wondered what I’m up to. He laughed and said ‘well i don’t think it could be a Shuterfly book yet’. I wrapped the books (7X9) in Christmas paper as it was “Christmas in July”. He opened it and his reaction was literally priceless. I took photos of course and have those posted on my site – it makes doing books, printing pictures, making photo gifts all the more special and meaningful. With reactions like that, I will continue to do this. Its so FUN to surprise others. My other aunts and uncles were deeply touched.
    Terrific article Earl!!

  2. rsheedy says

    What a great idea!! I definitely need to share my photos more. I appreciate it so much when other people do this for me, but since I don’t print my photos very often (they usually end up in a photobook), I don’t usually think to do this. It’s such a simple, thoughtful gesture though. You’ve inspired me to make more of an effort. Thanks for the great article!

  3. Spacey84 says

    I love this article! It shows a lot of effort on your part to find these people a year later to present them with a photo–very thoughtful! In the past year, I have decided to share my photos more, also. I regularly post them on facebook and send them to the local newspaper, TV stations, Wunderground, etc. If I find that someone really likes a photo, I will order a card or print and send it to them. It has also inspired me to put together books of photos taken on our visits for my grandparents.

  4. says

    Wonderful article Earl. I have gotten email addresses and sent pictures to countless people and they are always happy to see the pictures!! Love the pictures in your article as well. Loooove the article.

  5. says

    Giving back a memory that means so much to you to a new person you have met in a far off land in the photograph is priceless. How wonderful! I love how a simple photograph can bring people together because is captures a shared experience.

  6. angies5 says

    What a big heart you have Earl! This is such a wonderful idea. I just returned home from a long trip and wish I had read this article before I left. I am now inspired though, I will keep this on the forefront of my mind for our next adventure. (Loved the photos you included in the article too)

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