Best Memory.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by blansky, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    This may be tied to the thread of the fantasy location where you would like to go and photograph anywhere in the world. It also ties into the many threads that we talk about all the great places we were and didn't have, or failed to take a picture. You didn't stop your car. Not so much that you didn't get any pictures but the angst you feel about it.

    So here's the question: How many times has your best/favorite photograph been actually better than an experience you had. When your cameras were at home and you just absorbed the magic of the moment.

    The point is that most of us have some years behind us, and I bet that I have far better memories than I have photographs. (and I have a LOT of photographs). My memory of sitting on the beach in Hawaii is better than my photographs of Hawaii. The memories of staring at my wife are better than my photographs of my wife. The memories of the joy in children's faces is far better than any photograph I have of children's faces.

    So if my memories of these gorgeous places and my memories of wonderful experiences are so powerful, why would I care if I take my camera to Machu Picchu, or the moon or Angelina Joli's bedroom.

    Why do I feel the need to record these places and events instead of actually enjoy the experience of being there. And why do we let the angst of taking the perfect photograph of these places sometimes over ride our pleasure of experience it in the first place?

    I know some are going to say, "but the photograph helps me to remember the experience".

    The problem is, the experience was not you experiencing the moment but rather you trying to capture it. Sort of like you missed the photo finish of the greatest horse race ever run because you were concentrating on taking a picture of the greatest horse race ever run. You have the picture but lost the memory of seeing, feeling and experiencing it.

    In other words, you missed the magic because you were so busy trying to capture the magic.



    Your comments?
     
  2. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Excellent topic! Yes maintaining the ballence between being present and taking a photograph are needed to keep life in check. I think about this a lot since I have young kids, usually my efforts are quick grabs in the midst of our lives.
     
  3. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I spent 2 weeks in Spain looking through the finder of my camera. I think I may have missed something.

    When I got home, and processed the slides I saw it.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi michael, nice thread --

    i would rather not take any photographs at all to be honest ...
    the other day i was parked and staked-out ... i looked out the window
    and saw a fence, its poles, trees and perfect shadows and light .. people walked by
    it was a nice scene .. and while i almost intervened and photographed it
    i just watched and let my mind wander. i thought of the cold, and the wind
    and the people and what i was watching. i almost stepped outside with my box but i didn't

    i know if i had photographed what i saw ... i would have been all tied up thinking about "stuff"
    i would have missed the movie and seen a different one ...

    i think you are right, often times we are too busy directing and actively participating instead of living ...

    john
     
  5. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Even the best photograph is merely an abstraction of the Real. Nonetheless, a photograph can remind us many years hence that we really did experience something although it (the photograph) will never be able to live up to that past, real event. There is a fabulous and sad Duane Michals image, "This Photograph is My Proof" that addresses your question. Being and Photographing don't have to be mutually exclusive. Enjoy the World first, but keep the camera handy. :smile:

    s-a
     
  6. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    The problem with photographers is that they (we) are not necessarily normal.

    Normal person: "What a wonderful sunset!"
    Photographer without a camera: "What a wonderful sunset, and I left the camera home, aarrgghh". That will ruin the delight of the sunset, obviously.
    Photographer with a camera: "What a wonderful sunset. Luckily I have the camera with me and I can make an attempt to catch its magic. Done! And oh, what a wonderful sunset!".

    End result: the picture of the sunset might not be that great, and not as great as the experience of being there, but having the camera prevented the thought of not enjoying the moment for not having a camera, and so allowed us to actually enjoy the moment!

    Would you have forgiven to yourself not having taken pictures of your children?

    Seen it in another way: having the camera with you on Machu Picchu will allow you to actually prevent the photographer in you from not enjoying the moment because you don't have a camera with you.

    It's not the worst illness. Some people must get insulin every day, and they must carry the necessary for it. We must carry a camera to feel well and enjoy life :smile:
     
  7. jakyamuni

    jakyamuni Member

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    I wonder this occasionally too, with one additional consideration: does the kind of camera you look through change how you experience it?
    With SLRs and rangefinder-types, you look through the camera, with it between you and the world, possibly removing you from the experience. With TLRs and cameras with waist-level viewfinders, I feel like it's not so removed... that there isn't a screen up, and I can compose, focus, and shoot without losing engagement.

    Thoughts?
     
  8. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Agreed. Up to a point. I do love photos from all the trips I've taken - it helps you remember some of the things you saw when you were 10 years old, 20 years ago. At the same time, I don't let it dominate my trips. That's why I travel (and don't travel) with a small rangefinder setup. One camera, 1-2 lenses. I've never minded a camera's size when I'm using it, it's when I'm not using it that it drives me nuts.
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    For me the experience of being there is not of consequence, as only the interpretation of the scene that matters is visual capture of the moment. You often see people taking pictures during carnivals and other such events, which have great atmosphere, sound and human interaction. However, from a photographic point of view, particularly in black and white, these scenes are far too complicated and do not relate to a final visual image. You have to ignore all senses that are not visual.
     
  10. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I'd been a forester in British Columbia and overseas for 42 years, and in all that time I'd never seen a big cat. Not even a Bobcat or Lynx, let alone a cougar. A couple of years ago I was driving (very slowly) down a narrow logging road cut through the jungles of Guyana, came around a corner just as a jaguar walked out of the forest onto the road, not 30 metres in front of us. My driver and the jaguar both stopped. The cat stared at us for a minute or two then walked slowly into the jungle. I just sat there with my mouth open. A few minutes later, I realized I had my F100 with a 70-300 lens on it in my lap, and thought to myself, you silly ass, why didn't you take a picture. On further reflection I realized that my memory of the moment was much better than a picture. It was a magnificent creature, and I'll never forget the moment.
     
  11. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Excellent topic! +1

    I guess there is a fine line between being a photographer and being a tourist and everyone would need to draw it themselves. I know I don't want to be a 'tourist in my own life' so I will leave the camera toys at home when it fells right.
     
  12. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    I had been stationed in Hawaii while in the Navy and had done just about every conceivable "touristy" thing that could be done and all with a Canon AE-1 and a 50/1.8. One day I was on duty as back up OOD and so I had time on my hands but had to be available so no trips onto the big island. I had played a few rounds of golf on Fords Island a few days prior and thought that I might go chasing after the wayward balls that I had shagged along the way (never said I was good or Austin Powers). After awhile I came upon this massive, hulking, rusting, twisted pile of what I thought was scrap so I proceeded to climb all over it only to come to the startling realization that I was standing on what had at one time been everything above the water line of the USS Arizona. I never had the opportunity to go back with a camer as I was scheduled to be deployed with my squadron that very week.
     
  13. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    I will never forget right after my son was born (literally just a couple minutes). Normally I've got a camera in my hand when there's some sort of family event happening but not this time. My daughter, who was then 3 years old, was at the hospital waiting for her little brother to be born and her grandparents were keeping an eye on her. When they came in, she was all smiles and said "I'm a big sister now." I'm so glad I did not have the camera going then because the memory of it has stuck with me so well and I would've missed it if the camera had been going. I can hear her voice just as clear as day these 12 years later.

    Fast forward 12 years from then, and they fight quite a bit, but don't let anybody from outside the family mess with either one of them! They are the first ones to come to the each other's aid when someone outside picks on the other one.
     
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  15. jcoldslabs

    jcoldslabs Member

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    I photograph primarily around the house and within a few blocks of where I live. In doing this I have come to see the places nearby in a very different light than before I started photographing them. Sometimes stopping to photograph something, especially in large format, forces me to see it more thoroughly and in more detail than if I had just casually looked at it.

    Photos made while traveling or on vacation can be altogether different because you are often seeing a place for the first time and the presence of a camera can interfere with how you perceive it or distract from the overall moment.

    Jonathan
     
  16. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    My best/favorite photographs add a new dimension to the experience. But, I can't think of any that were intended, at the time, to document what was happening. They were made because of the light or image. The mood in the resulting image, may be rather different than what I was feeling at the time.

    When I'm looking to enjoy a sunset, for example, I'm just as happy, or even more happy to not have a camera, or attempt to record it.

    I have plenty of shots done at places, Disney, scenic locations, etc. made during various family outings, etc. My impression is that, for me, they don't add much to the memory of the place or events. Few if any, are photos I'd designate as "favorites".

    Maybe it is because, as a young photographer, was either engaged in journalism, or being paid to document an event or situation, so documenting, and reacting inwardly to the light or conditions are very separate endevors for me.

    Interesting topic, thanks for starting it.
     
  17. cdholden

    cdholden Member

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    I learned this lesson long ago when I used to go scuba diving. I thought how great it would be to capture the images and relive the moments. We went out on a commercial dive boat one Sunday morning for our usual 2 dives before lunch. There was a tourist couple (among several others) on board. The two of them spent most of the transit to the dive site (about 45 minutes) getting their camera gear ready... housing seals lubed, film loaded, flashes connected and tested, etc... while we ate fruit, drank juice, and joked about the previous evening's events at a mutual friend's birthday party. What a way to ruin a nice cruise. While I would love to have photos of all my dives in the Florida Keys, I am happy I chose not to deal with any of the excess gear.
    When I started looking for birds and wildlife in the Everglades, Loxahatchee and Big Cypress Park, many times I just left the camera in my pack and enjoyed the hiking/canoeing.
    I may not have photos to show for everything I've done, but you can take a picture of the smile on my dead face when my time comes to pass.
     
  18. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I vacation I take only a P+S. Anything else would just make me feel like I'm at work.
     
  19. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

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    This is a great topic.

    When I first got into photography I was obsessed with 'capturing the moment', chasing after sunsets, trekking through the woods weighed down with gear, etc. I took some really nice shots, but it could be really stressful trying to get to some of the places I used to got to shoot. I may have captured the shot but I was missing the peacefulness of the moment.

    Around the mid-90s I lost my enthusiasm for photography so I started to just enjoy where I was and not think or worry about how to forever capture it for prosperity. The photo bug bit me again a few years ago and now when I am shooting I approach it like some people approach fishing-I may not get a bite, but I'm going to enjoy where I am, listen to the sounds of what is around me and know there's always another day to get the the big one.
     
  20. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Seeing means satisfaction.....the beauty of light. Not having a camera with you....only a slight regret.
     
  21. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I photograph the experience, not the memories. I am not out there to record, but to gather all the elements of my experience in a place and distill it into a photograph through the magic of light.

    I photograph to slowly teach myself to see better. So it does not bother me too much to see and not to photograph.

    Using an 8x10, I wander in the landscape. Only when all the elements come together do I set the camera up. The camera does have an influence on me, but I am not looking through it to find images.

    Vaughn
     
  22. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

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    The emotions and feelings one has seeing a beautiful landscape or a sunrise will always be powerful and no print can ever match it. Any picture any one can make of such event is just an interpretation therefore subjective.
    If I have the right camera at hand I always sacrifice the contemplation and try to focus on making a good picture. I'm in a continuous race in outdoing myself in everything I do. I try hard to improve and learn from my mistakes.
     
  23. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Channeling my inner Yogi Berra... the thing is, you never have a memory you didn't have. You can't regret a memory - it's there. You can regret doing, or not doing something but you're not regretting a memory. I do however regret not taking more pictures, especially at certain points in my life. Sometimes there's no real memory associated with a photo. I have a self portrait in a fort in Halifax that I don't have the foggiest memory of. Yet there I am sitting on this cannon. Don't rely on memory. Like a badly fixed print, it'll only be with you for so long.
     
  24. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    So far, my memory appears to be excellent. (my wife may differ...) However, I don't so much take pictures to remind me of what I saw. Rather, I take them to share with others the things I saw, or how I felt about what I saw. Most often my memory captures a much more favorable image of the scene, than does my camera.


    ---
    I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=36.790882,-90.481092
     
  25. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    Pictures are my way of telling a story, writing a poem, drawing, painting, it’s my way to let the artistic side sail. My art happens to be telling stories/ provoking though. The places I photograph, or the people, have something to say and I show it through my expression.
     
  26. mark

    mark Member

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    Every time I process a sheet or get a roll back from the processor I think "That is not what I remember."