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Creating a memory or living in the moment?

Our recent vacation (2100 miles of beautiful scenery and a wealth of memories) got me to thinkin’ about my role as a “photographer” a bit. I guess it’s time to admit that I am getting a bit obsessive about capturing moments. Sometimes I see the shot in my mind and try way too hard to recreate it for the photo. What I am missing out on is, essentially, living in the moment. Lugging two cameras and 4 lenses (plus a speedlight and my new $350 Bogen tripod…not carbon fiber either) I realized that I am definitely living on the line somewhere in between the real world of the moment and the creative world of the capturer. It’s a risky strategy no doubt.

I just can’t seem to let a moment go without an attempt to document it. At times I feel like I am trying too hard and it’s showing in the photos. The result is too many ‘posed’ and uncreative shots. I’ve also seen an increase in pictures where the lens choice was wrong, the depth of field or the lighting were off and the emotion stripped from the moment all because I am trying too hard to stage something and am not taking the time to think about the composition.

In whipping out the camera and trying to set up this picture of our lovely picnic looking up at the beautiful hoodos in Queen’s Garden at Bryce Canyon National Park, I missed the moment of pure beauty and togetherness we were experiencing. I stole from the silence by asking everyone to stop eating and pose for me. Heck-I even scared away this lovely and majestic blue jay from the neighboring tree with my pose requests and grunting as I tried to move my bulky body down to a squat to set up the self timer. I missed the moment.

Or did I?

Because now I have this lovely photo to remember that day, that hike and the yummy turkey and swiss sandwiches we had packed by the Bryce Canyon Lodge in preparation for our hike. Now I am reliving that moment over and over when I look at the photo. And I am sure, with time I will forget everything else that caused stress to set it all up.


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Heasleye - April 27, 2008 - 9:45 pm

I have pondered this same issue. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I will look back at some of my “moment catching” and remember how frustrated I was with the process, and I’ve wondered if that will sour the memory for me. I tend to think…not so much. My brain just can’t contain all the details of every interaction and scene, and you can bet that our kids certainly won’t remember those frustrations when they see the pictures years later. I believe they will see family togetherness and a mother who was dedicated to them and to documenting their important lives. As long as not every picture is fraught with frustration and grunts and groans, I think “working” to capture some moments is bound to happen and will blend into all the good memories when viewed down the road.
So glad you had such a great trip! Welcome home!

Michael - July 23, 2008 - 4:38 am

I love your new blogs and the photo website you have created! I knew you had talent. I love photography and take about a thousand photos a month….which means burning at least 2 or 3 photo cds a month!! Its nice to see you took a trip to my favorite place in USA….southern Utah. I have been there twice already and of all the trails I have hiked all over USA…Bryce’s Canyon Navajo Trail is my #1 favorite. I can remember hiking in Queen Victoria’s trail during the clear blue day and have good pictures of it in my Wild Wild West Photo Album. The first time I went out there….I traveled 8,000 miles in three weeks with my uncle back in the Summer of 97. Of all the places I traveled in southern Utah….Arches National Park is my favorite place to visit. I miss those days hanging out in Moab.

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