Here’s when NOT to shoot: my top four reasons why travellers need to put away their cameras and stop taking photos
In This Photography Article You Will Discover
- An Argument Against Photography
- How To Get More Out Of Your Travels
- What Memories Are Made Of
I’m a shutterbug. In the past few years alone, I’ve amassed a photo library of more than 20,000 images. I’ve had to upgrade my hard drive just to store them all. And frankly, there’s probably only a few hundred of them I really cherish (most of which can be found throughout this site, or here and here). So that leaves me with about 14,700 images in my catalogue that serve no genuine purpose and are rarely, if ever, viewed by anyone.
So why take so many images? I’m going to argue against being a photo buff. I’m telling you, fellow adventurer: put that camera down.
Here are four reasons to heed:
1 Live In The Now
There are few acts that take you “out of the moment” more than trying to frame a perfect photo. A gorgeous ocean sunset becomes a finicky game of shutter speeds and colour saturation. A thousand-year-old temple challenges you only to consider your f-stop, rather than the hands that carved the stone. A humpback whale breaching the surface of the sea turns into a disappointment when you fail to capture your National Geographic-worthy image.
As the hippies say, “Live in the now, man.”
I love to return from a trip with a collection of wonderful images — both for my work as a writer/photographer and for myself and my friends — but there is a point when you have to wonder… “when is enough, enough?” Are you truly immersing yourself in the experience when you hide behind your camera’s lens? Often, the answer is no.
2 False Memories
This one causes me great trouble — the concept of what memories are made of. Consider: when I visited Bali, one of the first wondrous sights that presented itself was Mount Batur — a mighty volcano near the island’s centre. I snapped photos rapid-fire; one in particular captured the scene perfectly. So perfectly in fact, that often when I remember the volcano I actually picture the photo — not the scene I witnessed.
Think about it for yourself: when you recall great vacation memories, do you find yourself picturing photos you took rather than your real-time experiences? Troubling, isn’t it? I for one would much rather remember reality than pixels.
3 Great Expectations?
When showing your vacation photos, have you ever prefaced a image with, “The photo doesn’t do it justice, but…”? Or perhaps you’ve heard someone else say this? Often times, even the simplest of scenes seemed photo-worthy at the time, but when you look at the image after the fact it barely warrants a Facebook upload. (Scenic shots top the list here…)
So why take it? Again, just sit back and breathe. You won’t forget what you see. In fact, without a photo — you may just remember it even better. Which takes me to my next point:
4 Remembering It Your Way
During my last surf trip, I had wanted to get some action shots of myself riding the waves. Day after day, though, we spent too much time riding and not enough time shooting… or so I thought. On my last day, I came to the realization that I’m probably not nearly as good of a surfer as I think I am — and that actual photographic evidence would confirm this beyond all suspicion.
Perhaps the waves were smaller than I recall. Perhaps my surf-style was much less clean than I imagined. Perhaps I looked like a bloody idiot out there. Perhaps — but that’s not how I remember it. I remember myself as quite the pro. Do you know of any photographic evidence to the contrary? No? Then I’ll remember it my way, thank you very much…
Now, I’m not saying you should toss your Canon into the canyon. Photos are an important part of any adventure. Furthermore, as a writer/photographer/blogger, I personally know images are an integral part of sharing my experience with my readers. But there’s still a strong case — even for me — for putting down that camera… and just being there.
Also Read: Travel Photography Quick Tips