Why I Don’t Live My Life Through a Lens

In an age of technology such as the one we currently live in, sometimes the overwhelming draw of gaining Instagram followers and/or Facebook likes completely takes over. We go to weddings and rather than taking a nice photo of ourselves with the bride and groom to stick in an album and look back on in a few years, we take a photo of our food because it’s way more edgy and will get so much more social media attention. It’s a sad reality.

A friend in India recently asked me why I don’t walk around with a camera around my neck taking a picture of every street corner  like ‘all the other foreigners’.

I thought about it, having not really realised until that moment that I hadn’t been taking many photos. I checked the count on my camera and phone and combined the total was 131 photos in 5 weeks, an average of 3.7 photos a day. To me that seems a lot, but then he told me that he once took 96 photos of his bike in the space of an hour so.

I do take photos. In my opinion I take lots of photos, but I don’t go overboard. I don’t take hundreds of pictures a day, I don’t zoom in on my food (at least not often), I don’t take 60 selfies with the same pose and then spend an hour deciding which one to upload. I take pictures – a quick one here and there – of things I want to remember, or of places I want to show to other people back home.

Believe me, I was once the person taking 200 identical photos of a sunrise (cough Machu Picchu cough) but in the past 5 years I’ve learnt that there’s a lot of reasons why you should take a moment to step away from the camera and just breathe it all in.

Concentrating on taking the perfect snap detracts from actually living in the moment.

Choosing the perfect filter, zoom lens and angle can take so much time and effort that you kind of forget what it is you’re even looking at. Before you know it the sun has come up over Machu Picchu and you missed it because you were too busy deciding whether to shoot from the ground or eye level.

You’re looking through a lens.

You may as well be watching TV. This one is especially specific to the people at festivals, concerts and other live events who spend the whole time with their iPhone out, recording the whole thing only to go home that night and delete it to clear up space for the new Angry Birds game. There is absolutely no point in experiencing something in real life if you’re going to spend the whole time behind a screen.

Too many photos confuse your memory.

When you spend too much time behind a camera and you look back in years to come reminiscing on a specific memory, you think you remember it in perfect detail but what you actually remember is editing and deleting all the excess photos you took. The image gets engrained in your mind, confused with reality. A personal example: there is a photo at my parents’ house of myself and my brother when we were about 18 months and 3 years old respectively. We’re walking hand in hand through a park, and the photo is taken from behind. This photo was on prominent display in my house for quite some time, and so I was convinced for my whole life that I remembered that day, that I remembered walking through the crispy leaves on the ground. Obviously I don’t remember it – I was just a baby – but seeing the picture so often clouded what was real and what wasn’t in my memory. Even to this day, if I rack my brains hard enough I can pull up that memory, but I realise it’s just fabricated, heavily influenced by the photo. Photos should be for preserving memories, not replacing them.

You can be damn annoying.

This is not everybody, but this is a lot of people. Namely: the ones who stand in the middle of a concert, rally, St Peter’s Square, race etc with huge iPads held aloft, selfie sticks out or facing the wrong way. The last one bugs me so much. Last month at Thrissur Pooram (which I will eventually get around to posting about), I was sat behind a guy who insisted on taking a selfie every damn time the umbrellas changed colour (probably more than 50 times). Each and every time he grabbed his phone, stood up and called his 3 female companions to pose with him. Each and every photo looked identical – the facial expressions were the same, the surroundings were the same, the only difference being the minute detail of the colour of the umbrellas. When somebody asks him how Pooram was he’ll have to say “I don’t know, I was looking the other way”.

It’s kind of a waste of time.

Obviously I don’t mean taking photos is a waste of time because I don’t think that at all. What I mean is taking 999 photos of the same thing is a waste of time – your own time. Because you’re not going to upload all 999 to Facebook (or if you do, what’s wrong with you), nor are you going to print out a copy of each and every one. What you will likely do is go home and spend a painstaking amount of time trying to decide which 3 out of 999 you like best, deleting the excess. Easy solution to that: take less photos to begin with.

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6 Comments

  1. 10th May 2016 / 1:25 pm

    I’m so down with this whilst travelling – quality over quantity. I have to ask myself ‘what are you going to do with it?’ if i find myself reaching for my phone to snap something that everyone else is snapping. Like landscapes. Most of them are boring unless they have people in!

    • 10th May 2016 / 9:41 pm

      My sentiments exactly! Landscapes, sunsets and sunrises are 3 things that don’t really change no matter how many frames you shoot, so I do not understand why some people spend the whole time clicking away. It riles me!

  2. 15th August 2016 / 2:56 am

    I couldn’t agree more! When people ask to see photos of my travels or somewhere in particular that I’ve visited, often I find myself responding with “err I don’t actually have a photo of that, I was too busy enjoying the moment/place”. Many people end up being completely shocked by this, it’s quite sad actually.

    • 16th August 2016 / 9:01 pm

      I get the same thing! Or I’ll have one or two pictures of places or buildings or people whose memory I want to preserve, and I’ll show people only for them to tell me “but that’s not interesting.. where are the photos of X Y and Z?”

  3. 15th August 2016 / 3:53 am

    It’s actually true … Most of the time whenever I travel, my heart always wants to connect with the place but my cameras mostly stops me from doing that….some special moments only required to be captured and the rest should actually be enjoying with your own eyes. 🙂

    • 16th August 2016 / 9:01 pm

      Absolutely! Sometimes we just need to step back from the gadgets and technology that have consumed us, look up and enjoy the beauty surrounding us! 🙂

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