Thursday, July 10, 2014

How Losing My Camera Opened My Eyes…

6 years ago I finished a study-abroad program in Switzerland where I lived, studied, toured and photographed the life and design of the culture for 3 weeks. Due to the fact that a large portion of the curriculum was photography I brought along my Canon DSLR camera to take some breathtaking photos of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Needless to say that during the final week my camera was lost along with many photos I had taken of the last couple of days. Rather than share the story of how it happened, let's fast forward to what I've learned to appreciate since.

At the end of the 3 weeks we were allowed 10 days of traveling freedom to anywhere of our choosing and my wife and I took advantage of this opportunity to celebrate our anniversary by taking a train to Paris, which includes another exciting story for another day. But because I lost my fancy camera I was forced to dedicate my time to my wife and the many museums and other tourist attractions surrounding us. Luckily we still had a point and shoot camera so we still came home with a recorded memory, but I didn't waste all day setting up for the perfect shot, getting the lighting just right, and taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe from multiple angles. Looking back it was one of the best worst-case scenarios to happen. The loss of a camera opened my eyes to enjoying the moment and partaking of it.

There is a popular trend with cellphone pictures and the urge to post everything we do to social media sites. Although not as high-tech as the SLR cameras and lenses, camera phones are still distracting us from missing out on the joys of living life completely. How many selfies does one have to take to get the perfect picture that they can share on Instagram or Facebook so they can fill their "Like" bucket for the day? How many plates of food need to be photographed and uploaded before actually smelling the aromas and eating a bite? How many simple acts of talking with friends and family at an event until you get distracted with your nose in a digital device to see what other people are doing?

I recently went to a dance club the other night where Elijah Wood was to appear as the headlining DJ. As someone who loves to dance and embrace the different people and cultures of those in attendance, I was disappointed to see that most came only to take a picture of DJ Frodo. The crowd had pushed their way to the front and spent their entire evening taking different shots of the star so they could brag to their friends that they saw him, but were in fact watching him on a small screen as if he was in a self-contained music video. I beckoned for the phones to be put away and dance, but the crowd was insistent on filling their digital storage. I eventually made my way to the main stage and found a small group willing to open some space and shake their bodies till the end of the night.

Then just this past week I took my daughter to watch the fireworks show at a local park to celebrate the 4th of July. Due to the traffic and large crowds I had to walk quite a distance to reach our destination. Both directions, to and from the car, I saw multiple people with their phones out and recording the many fireworks on display. Once again, as if they had never seen a firework explode, they were taking multiple shots so they could either remember this moment forever or share it with their friends. But upon hiding behind the phone, they missed out on the real deal. It was comparable to buying tickets to a sports event and watching it on the small screen. You might as well have stayed home and got a close-up play by play on the big screen.

I understand the need to record and share memories with others or for future retrieval, and I still hope to get some money to replace my lost camera, set up a tripod, and record some beautiful imagery myself. But the best memories I have are those experiences share intimately with those in my company as we take in the moment with our eyes and the other human senses. I have had many small wonders in my life amplified by embracing the moment and recording it in my mind. Those times are more special to me than any "Like" could compensate for and I hope to continue to discover and learn more ways that life itself can be more fulfilling…

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this post. Love it. I have been feeling a lot of the same things lately and want to just say "AMEN" to everything you said. Lately I have really taken a step away from technology in general and I have to say- it feels great! It's harder than I thought it would be to break away from the crazy notion that we have to "Share" everything in order to fill our "Like" buckets for the day. When did my self worth become dictated by how many "likes" my article/picture can generate? These days if I decide to bust out the camera I take a few quick shots to document the moment and then I put it away and try to be IN the moment.

    Again- loving this post. Thanks for putting it so eloquently. :)