Tuesday, November 03, 2015

On Photography and Living in the Moment

Every so often I'll see a post somewhere about how everyone should stop taking photographs when they're out someplace beautiful and just enjoy the scenery. That focusing on taking a picture ruins the experience, keeps you from living in the moment.

Now, that may be true for some people. But it certainly isn't true for me. And it makes me think that perhaps there is a fundamental misunderstanding about how the photographer's mind works.

See, photography isn't just about snapping any old shot, ignoring everything else, and walking away. It's so much more than apertures and shutter speeds and filters. It's about immersing yourself in the moment. It's about feeling such a deep connection to your surroundings that you want to try and capture it so that you and others can go back to it later. It's about framing the shot just right to make it feel like you're really there, whether it's a wide shot to capture the vastness of the scenery, or a macro shot of a flower so close you can almost smell it. It's about waiting for that cloud to pass so that the light will come through the leaves just so, and make everything shine. It's about waiting for a smile, a turn of the head, a certain gleam in the eyes.

It's so much more than just point and shoot. It doesn't matter whether I am working with a phone camera, my SLR, or anything in between. I see something I want to capture. I stop. I frame. I inhale. I focus. I wait, and exhale slowly, then push the shutter button when the timing is right. Sure, now that everything's in digital, I don't have the same restrictions film gave me. I can try that shot again, and again, and again. But each shot is taken with the same care as the last, each one bringing me just a little closer to whatever I'm trying to photograph.

For the photographer, taking a picture is how we live in the moment. And maybe, if we get that perfect shot, we'll be able to live it over and over again, even after our subject has long gone.

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