This post isn’t having a go at anyone – I’ve noticed myself doing this, then recognised it’s quite commonplace:
It just seems strange to me. Maybe you’re driving in the Highlands. You pull over at a viewpoint. Your breath is taken away by the beauty of the view. You gaze into the far distance, then the near distance. Maybe you notice something closer. Then you gaze back out to the far distance. You may have a sense of awe, or nostalgia, or some poignant sense of beauty.
Then you take your camera or phone out. Take a few seconds to frame it. Snap it. And walk off. It’s as if the view that inspired you is no longer there. You’ve ‘got it’. It’s collected. Now you no longer need to look. You no longer have the urge, the imperative to look.
On holiday in Italy recently as I went from beautiful view to beautiful view I noticed a thought as I snapped a picture that said ‘ I’ll look at this later. At leisure. When I’ve time to appreciate it. ‘ Or something like that.
When I noticed it, I naturally started taking fewer pictures. Sometimes I would sit and try to form a mental picture of the scene. How much could I commit to memory? How much could I notice? It was demanding and almost tiring. Sometimes I would do this, then take a photo. What I found, later at home looking at them, was that not only were they better photos, but looking at the photos brought back much more of the feeling of being there – the dazzling light, the conversation around me, cool patches of shade.
What have I learned from it? Not to be snap-happy – to take way fewer pictures. Take them with a purpose in mind – say a particular family member at home who would like to see this place. Try to take in as much of the scene as a mental recording as possible. And, out of respect for the scene and the beauty that drove you to take your camera out in the first place, linger a moment after taking it, letting your gaze continue to rest on the scene.
Taking pictures with more of a painter’s eye than a collector’s.
(Selfies? Don’t get me started on selfies!)