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Put Your Camera Down || New England Wedding Photographer

I know a lot of people – who aren’t professional photographers, mind you – that feel the need to document every single little thing in their lives.  Every experience, every moment.  Their cameras are always at the ready.  It’s always been something that bothers me, and not just because I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it.

I think when you’re so bent on photographing a moment, it can hinder your actual experience of it.  There is a layer between you and the moment.  And while I think taking lots of personal photographs is a great idea, I think there’s a point where you need to set your camera aside and allow yourself to just have a pure experience.  Allow yourself to remember a moment with your mind instead of a camera.  (Sometimes it will be even more beautiful that way.)

I think in this crazy age of digital photography and social media, there is this bizarre mindset that if you don’t Facebook/blog/tweet something – did it really happen?  If you can’t show it off – is it real?  Which is CAH-RAZY. Yes, it’s real.

At our wedding, we wanted everyone totally present during our ceremony.  We didn’t want family members snapping away; we wanted them to listen and support us as we were making this huge commitment, so we put a note in our program that asked everyone to please refrain from photography during the ceremony.  We hired professional photographers for a reason – so our loved ones could be present without worrying about documenting our wedding for us.  And – as far as I know/remember – everyone respected that request.

Last summer, John and I went to Portland, Oregon for a few days.  It was a pretty quick trip, but on our last day we had some free time together.  It was a beautiful day, breezy and sunshiny.  We had a long, lingering lunch on the riverfront, and then went to the park, laid in the grass, and listened to street performers.  I didn’t pull out my camera.  I wanted to – it was such an amazing day.  But I’m glad I didn’t.  Because my camera could never have captured the way that day felt to me.  Instead it’s this perfect memory in my mind; this absolutely glorious afternoon we spent together.  And somehow, that’s better.

I love photography.  I’m incredibly passionate about it.  I was meant to be a photographer.  But I also know that sometimes you need to set your camera aside, leave it at home, and remove that layer between you and your world.  I promise – you’ll remember that day even if you don’t have pictures of it.  It will still burn brightly for you; more vivid and real than an iPhone photo.  It’s still a real experience even if you don’t have the photographic proof.

piazzanavona

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  • I definitely agree with this. I was very immersed in photography in high school and shot all the time. Shot for my art, shot art openings, shot everyday happenings, EVERYTHING that I was a part of… this was before Facebook, when I just photographed things for the hell of it or to document it. And what happened? I felt disconnected from everything I was shooting. I had photos that showed I was a part of the moment, but when I thought back to the moment I photographed, I was too distracted to realize the significance of what was happening. After that, I put down my camera and — seriously — shot only sporadically for several years after that.

    Coming into wedding photography now, I feel like I have a better grasp of what my boundaries are. I hang out with people and don’t photograph the happening. I go to parties and leave my camera at home. I go to weddings and I shoot the weddings and love being a part of the day, but the day is not about me, it’s about the couple, so it’s not like I am distracted *from myself.* I gain something by being there, whereas if I were photographing a party or something similar — things with friends — I may lose something by shooting it. Does that make sense?

    I photographed a wedding recently where this guest had her camera out during the ENTIRE ceremony and the ENTIRE reception. She was basically shooting everything we professionals were shooting. Even if she was a professional photographer, it made no sense for her to do that… I felt a little sad for her, since she was basically “working” when she should’ve been in the moment.

    Sorry for the novel but I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too, as you can see!

  • Yes! You say this better than I ever could. I went through a period a few years ago when I felt like I had spent too much of my life being looked at through a lens (mom’s a photographer), so I left my camera at home during my two-month stint in the Dominican Republic. Sometimes I wonder if I sacrificed some memories, because I know in a few years I probably won’t remember what my host mom looked like, but in the end I think I did myself a favor by living in the moment for two months straight.

    That being said, this is why I LOVE my instant camera. When we went on vacation to Mexico in December, I felt comfortable knowing that I had exactly 40 exposures for the whole ten days. It made me feel like I could still take pictures, but I knew my eye wouldn’t be glued to the viewfinder.

    Great insights as always, lady.

  • I agree! But to play devil’s advocate, I also find that pulling out the camera can also bring me MORE into the moment, but especially or maybe only with children. A camera can pull me into a child’s world and let me explore it with them in way that I can’t without a camera. I truly believe that my camera brings me closer to my 2 year old son. But then, 90% of the time I’m with him I don’t have my camera out, or if I do it’s just for a few quick iphone shots before I put it away. It’s important to do both – each offers something different. Great seeing you today Katie!

  • Alethea – I totally agree that taking pictures is important – obviously. ;-) I think personal photographs are SO important. I look back and I wish there were more pictures of my grandparents, for instance, when they were kids or early in their marriage. Having that connection to your past and future is vital. But for me, it’s just knowing when to draw that line, between taking a few moments to capture something – and being so engrossed in capturing it that you don’t actually experience it. If that makes sense. I remember a couple of times that my friends and I would go out to do something and I was SO involved in taking pictures of what we were doing that that’s my memory of those social events – me behind a camera the whole time, and everyone else interacting. I just think that there has to be a balance. As with everything.

    Wonderful seeing you as well!!! I meant to bring home some goodies for John from the bakery and I totally forgot!