I came across a very interesting article on photography today. It was about how our reasons for taking pictures have changed over the years. Tim Wu writes,
For most people, including me, photography is most often about documentation or record-keeping. It is about taking a photograph as an effort to grab a moment as it rushes by, to stage a tiny revolt against the tyranny of time. That’s why traditionally we photograph at moments you might think of as scarce…. But the ease of photography has also spawned an ambition to create a record of our lives that is roughly as long as our lives. If some primitives once supposedly feared that photography would steal their souls, today we fear that to fail to photograph is to lose something forever. But fighting time is a losing battle. The effort to record everything is vain and soon starts to feel empty. (The Slow-Photography Movement)
This quote got me thinking, because I can totally relate to that feeling he writes about concerning moments seeming to be lost forever if they are not recorded with pictures. Sometimes I take so many pictures that I miss out on simply just living life. I have even found myself creating experiences for our family so that I can get some good pictures, rather than getting a few good pictures of the life that we are experiencing. Example? Raking up a big pile of leaves to get some fall photos of the girls, even though they never actually played in those leaves. (Are we posing or living life?!)
Tim Wu writes about tourists being in the most beautiful places in the world, and they spend so much time taking pictures that really, all they were looking at was the back of a camera, rather than the sights they traveled all that way to see. But at least they get some good pictures!
I have definitely been guilty of that. It sounds so dumb, but it’s easy to do. Sometimes I force myself to leave my camera behind, just so that I’ll live the moment without distractions. (I think I need to do it more often.)
Have you ever noticed that you are not fully in a moment? I remember an afternoon at the beach on our recent trip to Florida during which I was taking a ton of pictures. The ocean was incredibly beautiful, and the girls were so cute as they played in the waves and the sand. I kept trying to capture everything with my camera, but at one point, I put the camera down for a minute, and it suddenly struck me how warm the sun was, and how good the ocean breeze felt, and how much I loved the sound of the waves, the girls laughing, and just the sound of people enjoying themselves all around us. It was one of those moments when life just felt so beautiful and perfect, and I wanted to soak everything in.
And I went to put my camera away. I’d gotten enough pictures. It was time to run and splash and play. To live fully in that moment and make memories that involved all of my senses, not just the physical images captured with a camera.
Photography is an art. It is a gift to be able to capture moments that can be enjoyed again and again, for years to come. I will joyfully continue to do so.
But there’s also a time to put down the camera, and just live life. I want to seek balance in life. I don’t want to miss the important stuff.
What about you? Photography might not be the thing that distracts you, but is there something else? Something that keeps you from noticing the sparkle in freshly fallen snow or the smell after it rains in spring?
Whatever it is, I hope that you can also take the time to really soak stuff in, and live in the moment.
“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Jim Elliot