“Do you want to have a picture or a moment?”
Last October I attended NerdCon: Stories in Minneapolis and one of the authors in attendance was Patrick Rothfuss. He went to college in my hometown, so I knew I wanted to meet him. I attended his first scheduled signing and sat in the crowd of devoted fans. When he came in, he stopped to thank us for coming and told us how the signing would work. And he said, (paraphrased, because it was back in October, #oldage): “People are often so focused on getting a picture. While signing your books, I have about 30 seconds to spend with you. In that 30 seconds I can sign your books and we can chat and have a moment, or we can take a picture. If you want a picture, that’s totally fine and legitimate. But decide if you’d like to have a moment, or if you’d like to have a picture.”
[Tweet “Decide if you’d like to have a moment or if you’d like to have a picture.”]
I wanted to have a moment. I wanted to say, “Hey, I grew up in the town that you went to college.” That, to me, was more important than having a picture. That’s what I’d like for every part of my life; something I decided when I realized I was so intent on capturing memories that I was experiencing them through a camera lens.
[Tweet “I love capturing memories, but I don’t want to experience every moment through a camera lens.”]
I don’t want to live life through a camera lens. I want to find the balance of taking a picture to have a visual documentation of the memory, but also soaking up the moment. It might be the wrong thing to say, especially as a blogger in the day and age where every outfit, brunch and donut is documented. It’s why I don’t always have photos of the things I do. It’s why I often don’t have the “perfect” photo.
It’s also the reason I made a very un-blogger-like decision when I went to Leticia: I didn’t take my camera. Logistically, it worked better to use a carry-on other than my camera bag to travel from Bogota to Leticia and I didn’t want to lug my camera around when we went on our excursions. I knew I’d miss out on some cool shots (like wild sloths that my DSLR would have captured so well), but I wanted to take in those moments and enjoy them without a camera plastered my face. I wanted to be free of the stress of making sure my camera was safe and protected; of deciding when I should pull it out and when I should put it away. (And it’s not like I’m lacking in cool photos from the Amazon!)
Different people have different purposes, but I think it’s a question worth considering. We need to decide if we’d like to have a moment or if we’d like to have a picture and we need to find our perfect balance in that mix.
[Tweet “We need to find our perfect balance of having a moment or a picture.”]
I am SO guilty of this – I live behind my camera a little too much sometimes. I love the idea of deciding to have a moment or a picture – I need to get out from behind that lens more. Great post.
It’s really hard to balance taking a picture and have the memories from your own eyes. Sometimes I prefer the second, but when I don’t have pictures for an exact moment I’m upset wit me because I don’t have any picture to see that moment.
Absolutely! I LOVE taking pictures, so it is definitely a struggle to reach the perfect balance between documenting a moment that I know I want to remember, and experiencing it. Sometimes I pull out my camera, and other times I just let the experience take center stage. It is tough, especially since we all have a camera (via our phone) in our pockets at all times!
Crystal, I LOVE this. Our society has become so focused upon taking photos that we are not present in the moment. When I was in college, my older brother was in Europe doing research (art history). I went to visit but the deal was I could not take photos when we went places. He wanted me to appreciate what I was seeing rather than try for the “perfect” photo. We did later take some photos but I will never forget the moments of being amongst such history seeing it.
I love this so much, Crystal. You’re absolutely right… and I have a hard time putting down the camera (or the phone, for that matter) to really soak it all up. Lately, I’ve been doing that a bit more often. I go out with friends, my phone stays in my bag. I don’t make an attempt to look at it, because when I do, I’m taken out of the moment.
What an important lesson you learned that day <3 Thank you so much for sharing with us! XOXO
Those monkeys crawling all over you are EVERYTHING, sister. 😉 xo
I’m trying to be more mindful and striking a balance of being a natural shutterbug and just living and experiencing.
This is a great reminder. I am going to greece next week and am SO excited but this is something that definitely made me think and I will keep in mind. So important! *thegoodthingscomin.wordpress.com
Something to remember when out traveling around or at family gatherings. Some are so busy taking pictures they don’t get to enjoy what is going on around them.
I absolutely love this! There are times when days go by without me sending photos of my kids to the family, and when they ask why I usually tell them I’ve been too busy having fun with the kids to reach for the camera. I am all about living in the moment and not behind the camera lens!
I heard about Nerdcon (I live near Mpls!) and knew someone who went! Sounds like it was fun. I totally agree with what you say here. Even as someone who works as a professional photographer…more often than not I opt to leave my camera at home for personal outings!
This is a really great and thought provoking question! I know that I am often the one taking pictures or video of fun moments, but I also forget to be in the fun moment.
Thanks for bringing up such a poignant question that is so relevant today! I do try to balance both, as everytime I am looking for a memory later and do NOT have a photo, I regret not taking the photo, especially of people important to me that I want to share with my kids. But there are definitely moments that are deserving of just the memory 🙂
It’s kind of interesting that I would come across this post today. I had kind of an “wow” moment exactly a week ago. I’ve always loved taking photos. Even before MySpace and Facebook and all that. I have picture albums from middle school and high school. Now it’s really awesome because I have photos of people who are no longer with us. I recently started seeing someone I grew up with and we were looking at the photo albums and when talking about it I realized that the reason I love taking photos and have so much is because when my parents separated in his spitefulness my dad destroyed all my mother’s photographs and so photos of me as a child are limited. I think it’s so important to live in the moment and I agree photos are okay but if you spend the whole time taking pictures you aren’t making memories you’re creating documents. I’ve said goodbye to a lot of friends and loved ones in my life so I do try to take photos often but when my girlfriends want to spend 10 minutes taking the perfect selfie I’m like “can we please get back to our regularly scheduled fun.” Hahah Great perspective.