Take a photo, but only take a good one. Or not.

This is for the more photographically inclined, and the number of people this will probably reach is limited. So let’s see if I can connect this to life in general shall we?

The nice thing about having a window in your room is being able to see the nice weather when it’s nice. The bad thing about having a window is being able to see the nice weather when it is nice. Paradox? You bet. With regards to photography, it’s a bit of a pain in the rear end. It’s a pain because I have a tendency to feel guilty and think: “It’s such a nice day, I should go out and take photos.” The particular thought had always come across but I never really thought about until I read this article on “The Online Photographer“. The example he uses rang quite a bell to me. As an Arts student with quite a number of Commerce Faculty friends, business like conversations are quite common for me to hear. The blogger, Mike, talks about how persistence doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. It’s a bit counter-intuitive to what we’re usually taught: hard work pays off. It’s true, hard work does pay off, but one also needs to identify when the effort that’s being put in is worth it, or not. The same applies for photography.

Remember back in the day when it was only your mom trying to capture “the moment”? You know, making you pose for that “Kodak” moment: your 5th birthday, 6th birthday, 7th birthday, 10 birthday, elementary graduation, and even your wedding when you’re old enough. Now you got folks such as myself with fancy shmancy cameras taking photos willy nilly all over the place taking photos. Over time, you begin to ignore the snaps and you become less weirded out by that. Awesome. Now, don’t get me wrong. Having a friend who is basically the designated photographer of your birthday, party, event, or whatever the heck it is that you’re doing is awesome (even for the photographer)! Done right, it can bring back memories, laughter, smiles, and general happiness when others see them on the spot in the camera or later on on Facebook. For the photographer (and any person basically), getting reactions of basically “wowwww” is ego boosting and just pure awesome. That I won’t lie about. The point I’m getting at, is sometimes it gets distracting.

Posed photos engage the subjects as well as the photographer. That’s probably a better way for a photographer to get involved while taking photos. Now if your style is a mix of posed shots and candid shots, then you’re going to be less engaged and everybody else is going to know that. Photographers for the most part pride themselves on getting good (or bad depending on your opinion) candid shots. It’s one of those “gotcha” moments or “GOTCHA HAHAHA”. When it comes to candid shots, the photographer basically has to become invisible. He/she does this by making sure that everyone is comfortable with them taking photos after getting accustomed  to their presence (and the camera’s presence). Once this happens, the people begin to ignore them. Photojournalists and event photographers work this way and it becomes a mutual understanding of “I won’t bother you and you won’t bother me” for the most part.

On the photographer’s side, the camera DSLR, point&shoot,and anything else that takes images becomes a barrier. Think of it as a being in a box, when the eye is brought up to the viewfinder (or LCD screen) you’re concentrated on that rectangle where the image is. Bring it away from the viewfinder and you’re back in reality where everything is happening in real time. But, one may argue: “you’re still seeing things real time! How can it be a barrier?!” If you’re serious about photography and not just snapping away absent-mindedly, it is just like being in the zone. There really is not other way of describing it. Your focus is all on capturing that moment, and yes if there is excitement in the air it is felt but it just is NOT the same as participating in it.

Photography was my way to socialize more. If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking “what? I thought you were talking about how you can’t socialize when you’re taking photos”. All of the above has been true. Except for me, socializing was an extremely hard concept. Being “ignored” while taking photos, for me, was THE perfect transition point. After a while, I began to notice all the “symptoms” I had been talking about earlier. I felt a mix of jealousy, happiness, and confusion all at once. To say the least, it was pretty annoying. Photography had helped me become more social, but it had reached the point where it started making me unsocial. Again, paradox. Paradoxes run my life, what can I say?

After a few more moments of conflicting thoughts and emotions, I began to pull myself away from the camera. I still took photos mind you, but there were moments where I would raise the viewfinder to my eye, pause, and then bring it back down without even taking a photo. Quite often, I missed moments that “would” have been picture perfect. The first couple of times, I cursed myself for that but after a few more moments like that I began to smile more and more with every single moment I “missed”. The thing is, each “missed” moment was never really missed. I was there, I saw it, and most of the other people there (if not all of them) saw it. Sometimes, experiencing that moment and not capturing it on an image (and even possibly forgetting about it in the future) is something in itself. If you try to capture EVERY single moment, you’re not really enjoying yourself. Laughing at those moments you did capture, and I would argue sometimes they’re better when they’re few and far inbetween, is perhaps more rewarding then having an overabundance.

Now, there are moments I don’t even bring the viewfinder up to my eye. I watch the events unfold, laugh, smile, make loud noises?, and enjoy just being there. I pick and choose what I want recorded and what I don’t need recorded. The first time I realized this was an epiphany; it was like walking out of an extremely smelly stuffy room and into fresh mountain/seaside air with wind. I could feel the change in the though processes that I had whenever I took a photo. It was, for lack of a better word, amazing.

It’s all come together to become my philosophy with regards to photography (and even life in general): Take a photo, but only a good one. Or just don’t bother at all. Life is worth enjoying. If it really is that you enjoy life by taking photos all the time, by all means, go for it.

I still get comments such as: “It’s so nice, you should take a picture!”, “Get a picture of that!”, or “You missed it!”
Sometimes I take a photo, sometimes I don’t. All I can say is: “Yep” and smile. I know I’m enjoying everything as they are.

3 thoughts on “Take a photo, but only take a good one. Or not.”

  1. I totally appreciate this sentiment. I think anyone with a Facebook account (not to compare your photography to the common Facebook photo album!) has realized that trying to constantly capture good times with a camera just sucks the joy out of the good time.

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