Too often, rather than be in the moment, we try to capture it with a photo. We take a photo with the hopes of remembering that moment without realizing how much is already lost.
How often does taking a photo take precedence over being mindful? How often are you taking pictures of your food, your friends, your lipstick color without actually paying attention to the moment you’re in?
At concerts, seeing the Pope in Philadelphia, at graduation ceremonies, touring the country, on buses – you see it all the time. Phones held up like candles, lighting the sky, all to capture moments that won’t mean as much to you later because you missed the significance of the moment, lost to the lens.
Don’t get me wrong: Taking pictures can be incredibly important. Last weekend, I got married. I hired a fantastic photographer to capture the moments where I wouldn’t be able to hold a camera. You know what happened, of course.
“Make sure you stand next to her for the photo.”
“Let’s take a family photo!”
“Make sure you wear something nice, there’s going to be a photographer!”
“You want to buy [insert ridiculous object here] because you want everyone to match for the photo.”
“How will the groom stand out in the photos?”
“Make sure you hold your flowers low. Everyone wants photos of your dress!”
Can you see what happened? The discourse became less and less about what mattered: I got to get married to my best friend. Instead, people focused on what everything looked like because it would be captured in time. Friends and family lined up for hours taking photos at my wedding. Profile pictures were changed. Comments were posted on social media.
Ironically, the people who came to me to praise how wonderful the wedding was were not in any (or at least only one or two) forced photos with plastered smiles. As the bride, I was focused on my new husband and connecting with my family. The very act of constantly being pulled aside to take photos was actually a distraction. It was harder to enjoy where I was because I was putting on a show.
There’s research that suggests that taking photos actually impairs our ability to remember a moment clearly. The same article explains that younger generations use photography to communicate rather than remember events.
Whatever your reason for taking photos, just remember that every second you hold up the camera is another second you aren’t just enjoying the moment. If you’re not living in the moment, how can you expect to know who you are when you’re not really there?
-Catie Hall, Identity Graduate