In the summer of 2011, I traveled to Montreal to visit Dave, a very good friend of mine. Our cool English teacher, actually the coolest, from school lived there as well. And one day we decided to meet for a drink in a coffee shop. At some point, Dave started telling us stories about his recent Eurotrip he did after graduating from university. Great stories to hear until he mentioned he hadn’t taken A SINGLE PICTURE of the trip. I was shocked to my core. I had to stop him. He had just committed a crime! What do you mean you haven’t taken any pictures? I definitely don’t remember his answer.
Pictures or it never happened
He traveled all across Europe for two weeks but didn’t take one single picture. Ok, he took 5, 10 maximum. But he wrote on a daily basis about his experiences, journeys and so on. He could describe every situation he was in as if we were there with him. Check it out if you’re curious https://david.achkar.com/eurotrip/. The teacher and I were shocked how he hadn’t taken any pictures. As we say pictures or it never happened. All I remember from this conversation was me telling him afterward: “you have to capture the moment”. And it’s so easy to do so! And click, I had taken a picture to prove it while continuing the conversation. I had my iPhone 4 back then and it was the beginning of the smartphone’s trend. I still have this picture somewhere on my external hard drive that is in the basement of my friend’s house in Paris. Capture the moment. Isn’t it obvious? Not for everyone. And 6 years later, can you imagine yourself or anyone around you, except your grandparents, not taking a picture of something or someone? At a party? During a trip? In a museum? At lunch? The answer is a BIG NO. And that’s great. Even though some of us have an outstanding visual memory, most of us need to take pictures. And technology is helping us a lot here. It is. But it’s also harming us a lot.
Rather skipping the moment
Because we forgot what does capturing the moment means. Actually, it became so easy to take pictures with our devices that we lost the charm of capturing the moment. I also did. Haven’t you ever been in a situation where you take a picture on the move? You know what I mean? You’re walking. You don’t want to stop. You notice a picture moment. You take out your phone or camera that is so good now they can focus on the object while you’re moving and click your picture is taken. I don’t call this capturing the moment. Rather skipping the moment. It is. I have more than 2000 pictures from my last one month trip in Colombia. That’s great because now I can choose and make a selection of the best ones. But at the same time, I’m sure I was skipping some moments and going too fast, instead of posing, relaxing and being present in the moment.
Why are you so in a hurry to share your pictures?
The second reason why it’s hurting us is social media. I’m wondering why some people take pictures. For them or for social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)? Technology and social media made it so easy to share pictures publicly or privately with each other. Why are you so in a hurry to share your pictures? Don’t you want them to be yours for a while? For example, I have a group on WhatsApp with my family, and they kept asking pictures while I was away. When you’re blown away by all the beauty of your trip, choosing later only a couple of pictures, without even explaining the context of the picture, is pretty hard. I have finally sent some, but admit I was a bit annoyed. I was completely immersed in my trip and somehow this group was calling me back to reality. My mother used to travel a lot, and as you can imagine, back then they didn’t have the technology we have today. So all her pictures are on slides that you need to project on a screen. She used to tell us stories picture after picture. And still, ask my brother and me to do the same after each trip we make. We don’t always find the time to do so but I can guarantee it’s the best way to share your travel. Yes, every picture tells a story. But only the photographer can find the right words to make the story special.
Capture the moment. Yes. Take pictures. Please, do. But then wait. Breathe. Enjoy the moment. Forget about the pictures. And only then, post and share it. Because the worst when you do share it immediately you unconsciously become distracted and expect a reply, a comment, a like. If you’re a social media freak, try at least to wait until the end of the day, when you’re ready to go to bed for example. What a better way to remember the awesome day you had? You’re at a party, drunk, wait for the next day as it will be the only way to remember what happened after your blackout. Yup, happened to me once. Guilty as charged. You’re traveling, take this opportunity to disconnect and share the pictures when you’re back home from your holidays.
Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy taking pictures. I still do. Yes, I even take selfies (NOT with a selfie stick and will never do). But we have to decide how to use our devices and not the other way around. So don’t be fooled by technology. Use it as it has a lot to give but control it as you would like, not as social media, aka the e-society, wants you to!