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.
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.
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.
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 ...
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. :)
Originally Posted by blansky
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Diapositivo
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.