Taking pictures and capturing memories isn’t anything new, and there isn’t anything wrong with wanting to preserve those special times. In the age of social media and easy access to cameras and editing software; however, it seems that we are losing the actual memory for the sake of the documented one.
I am lucky enough to live in one of the top vacation spots in the world. As such, I spend a lot of time at the beach and see both locals and vacationers documenting their time through the camera.
While there are of course family photos, a cute jumping shot of a group, or other “action” photos of fun events as they are happening, there are also tons of shots of individuals, posing in a variety of ways, who then check the photos on their screens or continue taking pictures until they get that seemingly perfect “candid” shot.
Pictures over People
What strikes me is not that there is something wrong with wanting to take pictures, but that these pictures are being taken instead of making actual memories. It seems that it's not the place, the activity, or the memories that are taking precedence, but the time spent taking the photo that is the central focus.
While I’m sure not everyone devotes a ton of time posing, checking, re-posing, posting, and checking for likes, it can be argued that a good deal of people are spending a decent amount of time to ensuring they get their perfect photos. The time spent doing so is taking away from both the experience and the relationships.
It seems that it's not the place, the activity, or the memories that are taking precedence, but the time spent taking the photo that is the central focus.
Think about it… the need to take the perfect picture becomes a very self-focused act. Not only are you depriving yourself of enjoying and being present in where you are, but you are also isolating yourself from who you are with. A lot of time devoted to taking the perfect picture is usually spent on one person; I frequently see two girls taking turns taking photos of each other, or an “Instagram boyfriend” working to get that perfect picture for his girlfriend.
Rarely are the highly sought after pictures of an entire group or a couple; they are often solo shots. In desperately trying to get these perfectly posed images, the other people are simply being used for their attempts to capture the staged images. Even in those rarer circumstances when the picture is of a whole group, the time it takes to coordinate and dwell on these photos again takes away from the time and place where you are.
Lost Time for Memories That Aren’t Real
A quick shot that truly captures a special moment or a special place is entirely reasonable, but the photos that take hours and just stage memories are a different story. And I don’t mean to point fingers; I talk about this from my own experience too.
During my honeymoon, my husband and I chose one night to splurge on an expensive dinner with a beautiful view. I was overly concerned with how I looked, and throughout the dinner, I was thinking about where to take the perfect picture that captured our honeymoon bliss.
Luckily my husband isn’t afraid to call me out and quickly reminded me how silly it would be to sacrifice the evening with each other in such a beautiful place all over a picture to glorify a memory that didn’t look that way in reality.
We took a picture that isn’t perfect but serves as a reminder of a special night in which we shared a great dinner in a beautiful place and grew closer as a newly married couple. Looking for the perfect lighting and obsessing over my lipstick might have given us a better picture, but it certainly wouldn’t have given us the precious memories we made together that night.
Looking for the perfect lighting and obsessing over my lipstick might have given us a better picture, but it certainly wouldn’t have given us the precious memories we made together that night.
Again, it’s not that there is something wrong with wanting to document great memories or beautiful places you experience with the people you love the most.
It’s about sacrificing those moments for staged ones, about being more concerned with yourself than the people you’re with or the beautiful places you’re not fully experiencing. Take a picture, but don’t let that picture become the central focus and the only thing that makes an experience worthwhile.