A Few of the Benefits of Just Pulling Over

By Ralph Velasco

Are you the curious type?  Can you step out of your comfort zone and approach a group of strangers?

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to photograph in Turkey, a destination I’d been eager to get to for quite some time.  I was there on a scouting trip, which is something I almost always do in order to get to know a place before I bring a group back.

Scouting is Great Fun

On a scouting trip I need to see quite a few locations in order to evaluate which ones will work best for our group.  Because of limited time and the fact that it’s more difficult to move quickly even with a small group, on average I probably visit and photograph three locations for every one location I actually bring a group back to. 

I’m sure you can imagine that I’m moving very quickly through these places, and at times it’s a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Woman in red hat processes leeks near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
This woman is trimming each individual stalk to then be bundled.

Turkey Was Beyond My Expectations

Needless to say, I absolutely fell in love with Turkey.  The people are so friendly, and very open to being photographed, and the country’s infrastructure is on par with any other in the world to which I’ve traveled. 

The main roads are in very good shape, some better than the fastest super highways in the United States. The hotels were extremely clean and offered modern amenities I’d expect in top destinations around the world.  The food culture is second to none and exposure to this is an absolute must for any trip to Turkey. 

Woman in pink walking in leek field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
A worker makes her way through soon-to-be-harvested leeks.

But How Are the Facilities?

And, last, but certainly not least, when I’m evaluating a destination to bring a group of travelers back to, I’m always interested in what the public restrooms are like.  Are they clean?  Do they have soap and paper towels? 

Are there toilet seats, or even toilets, because at times there might be a squat toilet with two footprints and a hole in the ground, which is fine, but I need to know how to prepare my clients for what to expect. 

Well, Turkey excelled on all these points, and others, and has definitely made a wonderful destination to bring a group of adventurous travelers to enjoy.  Everyone had a great experience.

Medium shot of women working in leek field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
Team work is essential and often the workers are related.

So Back to Scouting

One of the most enjoyable and interesting things that I can do, and that I would encourage any traveler to do, is Just Pull Over.  By that I mean if you see something interesting happening on the side of the road, and it’s safe to do so, simply pull over and have a closer look. 

Women in white scarves binding leeks in field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
Reasonably sized bundles make it easier to carry the leeks to a waiting truck.

On the Road from Pergamum to Kusadasi

In Turkey I did just that as we were driving from the ruins at Pergamum back to the town of Kusadasi, where my hotel was located.  It had been a long day of flying, seemingly endless car rides, non-stop photographing, and I was tired, looking forward to a shower and some rest at my hotel.

Off the side of the road I spotted a group of colorfully dressed locals harvesting a field of what turned out to be leeks, and this was an activity I’d not seen before.  I immediately asked my driver to pull over and we got out and introduced ourselves.

Overall view of leek field during harvest in Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
This is what I saw from our fast moving vehicle.

These Folks Couldn’t Have Been Friendlier

Needless to say, they were more than happy to talk to us, or should I say to my guide and driver, because few if any spoke English, and at that point I’d only learned a very few words of Turkish (not that at any point I’d learned enough to have an actual conversation). 

After brief introductions I felt comfortable enough to start photographing these people as they expertly cut down, sorted and bundled large and heavy piles of dark green and white leeks.

Young man holding single leek in field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
A young man we met proudly displays a single leek for me.

It’s All About Variety

In an effort to capture a variety of images, something that I’m always trying to engrain in the minds of my tour participants, I was looking for individual people shots, small group shots, detail, medium and establishing shots of both horizontal and vertical orientations. 

The idea is to bring back an assortment of images that tells the story of this place and gives the viewers of my images a true sense of what I experienced there.

So not only would I encourage you to aim for a wide range of images that captures the essence of a place, but also to step out of your comfort zone and just pull over and introduce yourself to people when it makes sense. 

Man smoking cigarette in leek field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
A man takes a break from a hard day's labor.

Always Be Curious

See if they’d mind your making a record of the interesting things that they do, I’ll bet the majority of them would be more than happy to share, especially if you approach with a smile and a true sense of curiosity.

Tied up bundles of leeks in field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
Bundles awaiting transfer to a not so nearby truck.
Man holding three bundles of leeks in leek field near Kusadasi, Turkey by Ralph Velasco
Heavy bundles are taken by hand to an awaiting truck for market.

Please Be Sure to Comment Below


How often do you simply knock on doors, peek through windows (but not in a creepy way), pull over or otherwise make a concerted effort to seek out interesting experiences that most people would just pass by? 

Come on, don’t be shy!


Be sure to Subscribe to the blog (you’ll even get a free eBook) and YouTube channel so that you can follow along through the written word, photographs and video, I’ll be providing, and you can even choose to be there in person with me should you like to join me on a future tour.

Finally, don’t forget to let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are, and be sure to let me know what it is you’d like to learn more about.


Now remember, DRIFTERS,

life’s too short not to travel!

Spread The Word

Recent Posts