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.