I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to fully understand the true beauty of photography. Most people (including
myself at one point) get so bogged down by megapixel count, ISO capabilities, and creative filters that we forget
the true purpose of the photograph. The purpose isn’t to take gorgeous, detailed shots with blown out
backgrounds and perfect lighting, nor is it a contest to see who can generate the best, most “liked” image on the
interweb. In it’s purest, most simplified form, photography is a tool used to capture memories.
That is it.
A few weeks ago, Olivia (my girlfriend) and I drove up to Oakland to visit my brother and his boyfriend James’
house. After a hearty meal of corned beef, potatoes and cabbage, they took us to The Alameda, a small island just
ten minutes away from their home. We strolled through the thick cold Northern California breeze, and sipped
teas and peppermint hot chocolates while walking our three little dogs.
During this time, I found myself in one of those “PHOTOGRAPH ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS!” mode – which I did.
Now, I did get a handful of shots, but in all honesty, some of them were just… okay. None of them blew my
brains out like a loaded double barrel shotgun.
As I sit back in my bed looking at these shots, I wonder: how much did I miss out on by gluing my eyeballs
to that camera? Was I too busy trying to capture memories on camera and not enough time actually
experiencing them myself? I look at these shots and I feel… disconnected. It’s as if I were never even there; as
if I watched Olivia, my brother, and James experience these events while I floated in the air like a wandering
Thinking about this actually makes me sad…
Looking at this photograph makes me especially gloomy. My girlfriend, the woman I’m deeply in love with, who
is photographed within arms length actually looks lonely. I’m not even holding her hand…
So what can we do to cut down the time in front of the glowing screen and more time experiencing the memories?
Well, for starters, I can tell you that owning a nice point and shoot (like my X10) makes it very convenient to
snap a quick shot without gunning down your subjects with a giant DSLR. The quiet nature of this camera seizes
the photographic moment as swiftly as James Bond’s silenced handgun snips the neck of a Russian terrorist.
However, the final a-ha moment in learning how to reconnect with your subjects is to stop worrying about
perfecting all aspects. Who gives a fuck if your shot is shaky, and grainy, and non-photoshopped? Does it
really matter? Step away from your technical side and shoot from the heart. Shoot because you feel like
you’re stealing a piece of life – not because you want a Facebook thumb up your egotistical ass.
In the end, you will either understand this or not. But one thing is for sure: our ties to technology may have
simplified our lives in ways we never expected, yet at the same time… it has removed us from the experience
of experiencing our life. Our one and only life…