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Something to Write Home About

Gorgeous views collected from exotic corners of the earth are a bonus, but this theme is about something much more basic. Delight. It can happen anywhere under circumstances much more mundane than flying a helicopter without doors, watching a glacier float by, or dancing with fireworks. The trick is to notice it’s there. And better yet, make it real by sharing it.

Published January 11, 2012

Intro and Design Laura Brunow Miner

Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert

Dear Universe,

Though I know the Atacama Desert is in South America, I imagine it as the moonscape of another planet. I think about my journey across this giant plateau in moments of silence and walk out into the salt flats in my dreams.

Photographer: Linka Odom

I grew up creekwalking in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. Currently, I am enrolled in an online Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Program through the University of the Arts in London. I am settled in Berlin at the time being, and I love the freedom I feel in this city.

The Vatican

The Vatican

Dear friend,

We’d planned a trip to Rome for early April 2005 — and then the Pope died. We still went, joining thousands of pilgrims and mourners who were sleeping in the streets (though we walked to the opposite side of town on the day of the funeral). Twenty-four hours later, we went to the Vatican as tourists, and came across this scene mistakable for the Rapture.

Photographer: Allison Rost

Allison Rost is a Los Angeles-based writer/editor/photographer/designer. By blood, she’s half-Southern and half-Midwestern, but she was raised in Northern California, so she’s perpetually in the middle of a geographic identity crisis.

Barcelona Streets

Barcelona Streets

Dear sis,

I have discovered the correfoc, common at festivals here in Catalonia. Little demons skip down the street holding sprinkler-like batons that send out sparks in a wide arc. I was standing on the street, thrilled that I’d happened upon the carrefoc parade, until I realized that they were coming towards me and my bare legs! My Catalan teacher had warned us to wear head-to-toe fire-proof clothing (with hats and gloves and face masks too). But I soon learned that sparks don’t hurt.

I wish you were here! I would dress us up extra safe so we’d look like protesters guarding against tear gas, though we’d really be playing with firecrackers with thousands of other crazy people, letting loose on a hot summer day in Barcelona.

Photographer: Larissa Zhou

A recent college graduate, Larissa Zhou currently conducts food science research in Barcelona. She seeks adventures everywhere, all the time.



Dear world,

We discovered the perfect time to visit glacial lagoons in Iceland: 2 a.m. in the summer. It’s so peaceful to watch the semi-truck-sized ice blocks move silently, but they’ll be gone in 90 years, so hurry and visit.

Photographer: Nate Bolt

Researcher and photographer living in SF and NY.

Out to Sea

Out to Sea

Dear Mom,

I have discovered something about me: the sea is the only place I feel free. This is where I want to be and what I want to be, a fisher whose only goal is to catch the amount of fish needed to stay one more day at sea.

Photographer: Sebastian Vigil
Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Dear Professor Arbulu,

I have discovered the true meaning of the Chinese proverb “learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back.” This schoolhouse in the middle of Lake Titicaca is a reminder that education is about enchantment, understanding, and can happen anywhere. Thank you for teaching me to dare to wander, to never stop learning, and to live my best possible life.

Photographer: Allison Irby

Allison is an education professional from Washington DC who works to increase diversity in educational and workforce development programs during the day and is a foodie, traveler and dreamer during the off-hours.



Dear Dad,

Thanks for making us watch National Geographic shows when we were kids. Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to do a safari trip and see all these beautiful creatures. Luckily, my company sent me to Africa for work, and of course, I pounced at the chance to do a safari trip on the side. Little did I know that the most beautiful things out here are not what the eyes can see. If Africa can teach the world two things, it’s having respect for everything and finding happiness in everything. I’m definitely going back.

Photographer: Patet Amparo

Consumer insight manager at a multinational corporation in Singapore. Restless traveler. Photography junkie. Football fan. Big believer in possibilities and that people are more alike than different.

Ten Chiefs Camp, Minnesota

Ten Chiefs Camp, Minnesota

Dear Mom and Dad,

I didn’t know if I would like spending a summer as a Boy Scout camp counselor since I’ve never been to Minnesota and I was never in the Boy Scouts. But since I needed a summer job and I have a penchant for leaps of faith, here I am. Every day around dinner time, the sun sets over the lake at my camp, Ten Chiefs, and I like to reflect on the things that happened that day. For example, teaching curious boys lessons that will mold them into thoughtful men, helping a disabled Scout overcome a challenge to master a skill, or spotting a deer grazing on grass in the gun range after lunch one day (it was unharmed). I’ve learned more about the rewards I get from teaching the Scouts than they could ever learn from me. I have discovered somewhere wonderful.

Photographer: Aaron Bendele

An Ohio native, Aaron Bendele is an actor, improviser, writer, photographer, occasional graphic designer, and a full-time card carrying geek hooligan living in Los Angeles, CA. The only deer he ever shot was with a Canon.

East Toba Valley, British Columbia

East Toba Valley, British Columbia

Dear love,

I have discovered a hidden treasure. While I was shooting a project in Canada, I heard there was a helicopter available in the valley. I hired him, took off the door, and asked him to show me something beautiful. This is where he took me.

Photographer: Luis Peña

My name is Luis. I like to take pictures. I am a designer/director based in San Francisco.

Chandelier Tree

Chandelier Tree

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have discovered a tree wide enough for a car to go through. It was like I was going through a portal to another universe. Unfortunately, I scratched my car the second time around. It was worth it.

Photographer: Victor Sutan

Victor enjoys interpreting stories from photographs, when he is not looking at things in binary numbers.

Damascus, Syria

Damascus, Syria

Dear family,

I have discovered how to love a city. In Damascus, I have found a gentle and bright people. I have found warm kitchens and welcoming tea shops. I have found colorful art and comforting music. I have found a complicated history and an even more complicated future. I would do anything to return. (By the way, I told you I was traveling alone, but I was with Ross. I discovered him here, too.)

Photographer: Chessa Latifi

An award-winning photographer, Chessa’s photography often coincides with humanitarian aid work around the world, which most recently includes visits to Iraq and Haiti. When in the States, Chessa lives in Venice, California.

Triora, Italy

Triora, Italy

Dear daddy,

I have discovered this wonderful place in the inner Liguria. It is a rough village made of lavagna stone, surrounded by cracked and miserly earth, and with broken bottles on their walls as a defense. A rough Liguria full of sweetness. Here they still use primitive means — the plow with the ox, the hoe, the narrow sickle to dig out the weeds that grow between the stones — but everything is in balance. And life here has something ancient and magical.

Photographer: Simone Stanislai

I was born in Volterra, Italy in 1982. I tried to become an archaeologist but I got lost. One day I decided to make photography my profession, while keeping all the spontaneity and the emotive approach of when it was just a passion. Now I “dig” into reality with my Nikon camera, searching for fragments and little stories with meaning. And I feel better.

Piha Beach, New Zealand

Piha Beach, New Zealand

Dear Mom,

I found the most incredible beach on earth. Piha is a beautiful and rugged place. The frequent harsh weather makes warm, sunny days all the more special. There is no better place to escape from the hustle of daily life in the city. I cannot wait to show it to you.

Photographer: Peter Letteney

I am an amateur photographer, originally from the US, now living in New Zealand.



Dear Dad,

I’ve discovered that I feel at home here. It’s not where you want me to be. I’ll always miss you.

Photographer: Emily Raw

Emily Raw shoots artist portraits in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she lives with her husband, musician Bryan Dunn, and two grey cats. Her work is primarily focused on exploring the nature of image, picture, and persona.



Dear Home,

I think I found a new one. It’s more beautiful and inspiring then I could have even imagined. Everyday you can see the awe in our eyes, waking up knowing the mountains are to our west, and the incredible city to our east. When I say ‘our’ I mean us, meaning I found a group that I can call Us. Just a bunch of misfits that have fallen in love with the same place. Home, I hope this doesn’t make you sad, or angry, or think that I’ve moved on and I’m never coming back. I’m not saying that you’re not Home to me anymore, it’s just that, now I have two.

Photographer: Danielle Cossu

I am Danielle Cossu based out of Denver, Colorado. I study photography and video at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

The West

The West

Dear Mom and Dad,

You know how I always said I wanted to be a cowgirl? Well, it turns out I haven’t grown out of it quite yet. I have discovered the beauty of “the west,” and I’m quite ready to stay. We spent the other night at the rodeo, and it felt like the life I could have had, the life I still want to have, and the life I want my kids to have. Wish me luck?

Photographer: Lily Moore-Coll

I’m a graduate student living in Cleveland, Ohio, and currently pursuing photography alongside a masters in clinical mental health counseling.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Dear future daughter,

I have discovered a beautiful place where I want you to grow up. That’s why I decided to leave France. It’s a small city (compared to some others I visited), a city where I feel good, where people are friendly, where the weather is not warm and not cold. It’s a city with great parks where you can walk, climb, run, and a cosmopolitan city where people don’t judge you on your differences or appearances. Dear future daughter, I hope you will love it like I love it.

Photographer: Julien Chatelain

My name is Julien. I’m a web designer based in Paris. I’m also an amateur photographer who loves spending time with friends shooting in the streets (and drinking beers after). I’m curious about life and people. I like discovering new things and meeting people from all over the world.

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