Earlier this year I attended a dance party on a boat. There were DJs, music, even some fog machines for special effects. While taking a break from dancing I started talking to the guy sitting next to me about San Francisco, the fun events we go to and the types of people we meet. We realized something unusual about this event: there weren’t that many people taking pictures. There was the occasional flash of the camera, of course, but for the most part, people were just talking, dancing and enjoying the music.
It’s funny to think about how much we like to focus on documenting our special moments. I too want pictures of parties and hikes and, admittedly, delicious meals. But just the other day, as I took (very bad) photos of a concert, I realized how weird it was to be focused on the picture on my camera screen, instead of the concert in front of me. The more I tried to get a good picture of the moment, the less I was in the actual moment. I was still hearing the music and having fun, but my attention was certainly diverted from what was happening, to figuring out the best way to share what happened.
I’m not suggesting you stop taking pictures or videos. I think they’re wonderful. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and I even still get photos printed so I can put them into albums. Those albums make me happy and remind me of wonderful times with my family and friends. But as cliché as it sounds, sometimes we have to just be in the moment. I’ve gone to events where they actually take away your technology, which is a bit of an extreme approach. Instead, I propose that sometime soon, when you’re out and about, resist the “picture or it didn’t happen” mantra and try to just be comfortable with knowing it happened, inside your own head. That memory may fade someday, far before a photograph was. But it can also be fun to feel like you almost have this secret of some awesome thing you did – and no one else needs to know about it for you to feel satisfaction. Maybe we aren’t meant to have a perfect record of every little thing we did. Or maybe we are – I don’t know the real answer. But since my camera takes terrible photos anyway- I might as well try resisting the urge to snap them!