Thursday, April 14, 2011

Switzerland up Close

The Switzerland Tourism media event I attended last night at the Helen Mills Theater in New York City featured a presentation by award-winning National Geographic Traveler photojournalist, Catherine Karnow. With such a visually stunning country to capture, I had assumed the photos that she was going to share of her assignment in Switzerland would be of crystal-clear lakes, picturesque villages, and of course, mountains. Lots of snow-capped, majestic mountains. And that was the gorgeous backdrop of the photos she presented to our group. But what drew us in to those photos were the people — the young cheese-maker who felt he had a "calling" to go to the mountains to make cheese, the woman who drives a postal bus over winding mountain roads and through tiny Swiss villages to Italy every day, and the salesperson showing a customer a $400,000 Patek Philippe watch.

The best photos, Karnow said, should make you want to linger, to learn more. What captivated the audience last night was hearing those simple stories that went with some incredibly scenic photos. Of course, it didn't hurt that sparkling blue lakes, white-capped mountains, and alpine villages were our visuals. But storytelling really is at the heart of every memorable presentation, no matter the meeting's industry or topic. Even if the Matterhorn isn't a backdrop.

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