The Perks of a Life Without Pictures

Some time ago, I woke up a little earlier than usual. I went to the kitchen and when I was coming back to my room, I couldn’t help but notice the break of dawn out of my window and for a second I froze and stand there, mesmerized. The room was in complete silence and, for a moment, I felt incredibly lucky. It was amazing how such a simple moment could make me feel such strong emotions.

I felt amazing, but just for a second. Soon I went for my smart phone to take a picture. It took me a few seconds, I had to find a great angle and then add the perfect filter and finally, the hashtags. I uploaded the picture and then send it to some friends. I wanted that everybody could see what I was seeing, and hopefully, could feel at least something somehow similar.

By the time I looked back up, the beautiful dawn was just another sunny day. Beautiful nevertheless, but not quite as magical.

I had lost a great, beautiful, emotional moment because I had some other three or four things to do before I could allow myself to truly enjoy the moment. I had to share it because this is the advantage of being connected all the time, and we had to make it count, right?

 

We Are Gatherers

We, humans, are gatherers. We gather money, food, relationships and we also love to gather memories and stories. We are often more concerned about documenting our most important moments than what we care to enjoy them.

We want to preserve those joyful moments forever and we want to able to relive every experience in a distant future. We have come to believe that by documenting our experiences we have encapsulated them, like a genie in a bottle.

So when we catch a glimpse of sunset that takes our breath away or the smile of a loved one that make our heart jump, we instinctively reach for our smartphones or digital cameras in order to preserve the moment; forever, we hope. But we fail to realize that what took away our breath and made our heart jump wasn’t the picture we were so eager to take, or the ability to preserve the moment, but the living of the experience itself.

How could it make sense to interrupt these moments in order to take a picture that won’t bring half the joy that such moment is providing? In our effort to preserve a moment or experience that brings us joy, we ruin the moment itself.

When we are out on vacations, we put a great deal of effort in making sure our experiences are being efficiently documented, and the easiest way of doing this today is by taking pictures of everything and everyone. We take more pictures than we will actually see –if we see any at all.

We seem to have forgotten the value of living our lives, in favor of documenting every single thing down to the minimal detail. We have forsaken the pleasure of living in favor of the ability to remember.

 

Build Emotional Memories

How does it sound to go on vacations without a camera or without the ability to take pictures? Why would this be a problem if, after all, we are on vacations to relax and/or to live new experiences, not to come up with the latest guide on beach umbrellas?

The problem is not taking pictures; photography is an amazing creative outlet. The problem is allowing our eagerness for collecting and preserving memories and stories to interfere with our lives, which is how we really build such memories and stories in the first place.

You can always upload that picture later, and if you missed the opportunity to take the picture at all, at least you can describe the scene in all detail because you invested your whole focus and attention into it. But you will never be able to relive that special moment you just let go. And you will soon find that looking to a picture and not being able to remember how the moment made you feel is a very boring experience in comparison to the real deal.

We can remember by going over the data we have collected, or we can remember by evoking the emotions a given moment provoked within ourselves. When it comes to personal special moments, is not hard to figure out which has the potential to bring the most joy.

Care more about living and remembering you experiences by the feelings it made you feel, than by how many pictures you took.

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. Agree. In my view, taking pictures is fantastic way to spread positivity around the world because we take beautiful joyful moments with us to share. However, the hurry to share asap is something that needs to be restricted. Pictures are always going to be with us so they can uploaded on fb etc. later. Enjoying the live moment along with capturing beautiful joyful moments is what really matters.

    • That’s right Gargi. We often forgot that living the moment is way more important than to share it right away!

  2. Very true. I love taking pics, and sometimes get carried away. I need to remember to be mindful, live in the present moment, and stop to enjoy that moment. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Good observation and well worth documenting. As you have done. An old soul in present times

  4. There have been studies showing that you remember less of events when you’re focused on documenting them for social media. In our quest to preserve the memory, we forget to capture it at all. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/no-pictures-please-taking-photos-may-impede-memory-of-museum-tour.html

  5. Spoken as a child of the modern age…one with perception. You are so right! I remember the ‘now’ of back then. Before you and most of the world were around, yet. (Since many are so very young in the onslaught of the numbers population).
    Using our senses to process the immediate and to absorb is essential to creativity and a well balanced soul.
    Thank you.

  6. Thanks for wise words.

  7. Love this post. It seems like I always want to share beautiful moments that fall short on pictures. I need to etch them in my mind and keep them sacred and private so I can pass the beauty on in s different way. So enjoy reading your blog☺️

  8. I was writing something similar in my mind for ten years now, and I could never really put my thoughts and feelings into words on a paper realted to this issue. So this is perfect! Thank you! – I’m glad I have found your blog, (or rather you have found mine)! It’s great!

  9. I enjoyed this post so very much.

    Views: I received my first camera at the age of eight from my father. I loved the view through the lens and the bit of distance it gave me from what was actually happening. It was how I participated without having to actually join in. Great for an insecure child.

    My Aunt Eleanor told me that it was important to take lots of photos. And put the names of the people, and places on them because one day my brain could turn to mush and all I would have are the photos to keep my life and memories in order and truthful. She kept me in film during some very lean economic years.

    In my middle years I was a Wilderness Guide who took people into areas of the Southwest where they would not ordinarily ever see. So often their obsession with getting the right photo would prevent them from experiencing all manner of once in a lifetime events unfolding outside of their camera lens. They would often put themselves in danger too.

    I would also get folks who did not take photos. Older, relaxed, in the moment, and since I still never left home without a camera, my inquiries about this strange phenomenon, usually/ always got this explanation: “Oh we took photos for years when the kids were growing up, have a shelf full of them, but now we just buy books and postcards of the places we travel and enjoy the journey.”

    During this past year, I went without a camera for several months. I continued to see the world through the lens of my camera and at three times per day would howl out loud at the lack of camera. But at some point, while I continued to see the world as a series of potential photos, I embraced the entire experience and found people much more willing to approach and interact with me. ANd for a brief few weeks my focus widened all the way to the entirety.

    Oh I have a camera again, and take probably more pictures than most. I believe that digital photography is a liberating miracle! There are thousands of photos in my garage, closet, attic, computer. I am glad to have every one of them. Because my Aunt Eleanor was right.

    • I agree with you Johanna. Like I said, photography can be an amazing creativity outlet, and it has proven therapeutic in many cases. It only becomes a problem when we use it as a way to avoid experiencing life itself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

  10. I love this post. Over the years, I have taken lots of pictures during my vacation and they are all stored in boxes with the intention of looking at them later to relive the memories but with my busy life, I never did. Now, I take less photos and just enjoy the moments.

  11. Thanks for this– I often find myself feeling guilty for not taking enough photos, but really what I want is to have more moments of coming fully awake to my beautiful surroundings!

    • Thank your for commenting! There is no guilt in not taking photos if by doing so we live life at its fullest!

  12. This is an area that I have been struggling with myself. I love when I can look back at photos of my deceased parents laughing and being silly. There are boxes of photos of my children without me in them. Looks like they were traveling and hiking on their own. I am for the selfie sticks only for that reason. A parent traveling alone with their children should have one or two photos of them sharing the adventure with their children. Having received a camera for Christmas, it has become a little of an obsession but while traveling for work a blessing because I can slow down driving to and from various locations and snap some shots of nature. On the other hand, I have awoken to the whole snapping and recording special moments when with family member who want the kids to stop and pose or when they are in the middle of a special time and have to stop for a photo. Before blowing out the candles on the cake they have to pose while everyone takes a photo. In the meantime the candles are melting into the cake. It takes them from the precious moment and once gone cannot be recreated. While with the little ones I try to leave the camera alone until the precious moment passes then capture the left over energy lingering around the event. It isn’t quite the same but when viewing the photo later it helps rekindle the moment. This was a very timely post for me and I will share because you are right, stay in the moment while you are being blessed and share what you saw by describing it later. Then it is truly a part of you more so than the photo that gets lost in the thousands of other photos on the computer or in a box. I do love your hiking photo. Love and Light!

    • A picture take in the right moment can make us relieve amazing memories, but only if we took the tie to create the memories in the first places, as it appears is your case! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

      • Thank you Julio. Creating family memories is very important to me. I do not see my grandson very often because he lives on the other side of the country. A picture without laughter, scents, sounds, and fun would be meaningless. Glad you enjoyed this post!

  13. Sometimes, when the urge to reach for the camera becomes too great, I tell myself “No, this moment is just for you. Pay attention so you can remember it.”

    • I struggle with those urges too, but I think we are slowly becoming more conscious about the importance of living in the present moment! Thank you for commenting!

  14. This is poignant for me because the moon was amazing last night and I took several pictures without knowing if they would be as beautiful as the actual moon. I did not do anything with the pictures, I simply took them and enjoyed the moon. Tonight we are expected to be able to see a “blood moon” where a super moon has a lunar eclipse. I will probably take a picture, but I think it will last longer than your sunrise.

  15. This is wonderful! I think this a lot, but never got round to putting it on paper. The first time it dawned on me was when I was at a Beyonce concert years ago, and was obsessively taking photos, and was looking at everything through a lens rather than enjoying the whole experience of being at a concert. I even remember her giving me what was a sad look, like she felt I wasn’t having a good time.

    I don’t have fond memories of that concert because I didn’t really have a good time and I don’t even like looking at the pictures!

    I’ve since dropped my obsession with photography, and try to be present in all my experiences.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Something that many needed to read and others need to be reminded of! Light and Love, Shona

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