Does Caturing the Moment Take Away from Experiencing It?

XKCD Photos

I think we have all been somewhere trying to enjoy a performance or a quiet scenic moment, only to have someone bound and determined to capture every little detail … and seemingly as loudly as possible! This seemingly insatiable need to document everything – to Instagram our meals, use an iPad to record a concert, live-tweet shows, and on and on … it has created somewhat of a backlash.

Look at this blog post, and most of us can commiserate.

One thing as I go through pictures for my blog from years past is how compartmentalized things are. I have basically no pictures from high school – because I wasn’t the type to carry a camera. Now when I look back I wish I had SOME pictures … but I was never going to be the obnoxious type.

And THAT is one real issue – that people become obnoxious, almost entitled about their ‘right to film’. Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett is infamous about his insistence of non-filming (which goes back to the distracting mechanical clicks and now the artificial click sounds of cameras), at the concert for Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion he very specifically asked the audience not to film and there were signs everywhere … yet there are plenty of examples of the shows on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, from last summer pianist Krystian Zimerman stormed off stage when (after the usual ‘do not record’ warnings) he spotted someone filming his performance. As he noted, YouTube performances of his shows playing songs had lost him recording contracts – why should they pay him to play it when it is already on YouTube?

More and more, restaurants struggle with cell phone use – it used to just be annoying rings and beeps and people talking loudly over the phone. Now we deal with ‘Instagram foodie’ people – reports of people having portable lights and standing on chairs to get ‘that perfect shot’.

Notice the common thread? People believing their rights to photo/video is unalienable, that their right to talk/text/whatever means anywhere they choose, and that the basic rules of decorum do not apply to THEM.

But as is true with pretty much everthing else – most people are at least trying to be decent. They turn off their ringers at events, if they need to take a call they leave quietly and apologetically, they might Instagram their meal, but it doesn’t become a restaurant-wide event, and so on.

The xkcd comic from last week makes an important point – that capturing your experiences doesn’t HAVE to mean that you aren’t experiencing life … in fact, it can sometimes open up new adventures and experiences.

And isn’t that the thing – trying to get the most out of your experiences and also have something to remember them by? How many times have you met memorable people (for ANY reason) when they wanted a picture taken or if you were trying to get a family shot and they offered … then you met their dog, and heard their story, and it was just a great moment in your day?

So go ahead and grab that picture or video, photo that meal, be silly for a selfie or try on that new outfit and grab a mirror-shot to share. But also remember that those images should be the triggers to our memories – not the entire contents: we don’t want to be like the diver whose only memories of a close encounter with a huge shark are pictures, because he never pulled his face away from the camera to actually EXPERIENCE that real-life closeness.

OK – tell me one good and one bad experience you have had with yourself or someone else taking pictures!

4 thoughts on “Does Caturing the Moment Take Away from Experiencing It?

    • Haha – I had a good ‘in’ with Bradlee’s as well … but I am a crap photographer, and just never had the interest. I take more pics now, but that doesn’t make me a very good photographer.

  1. We got super frustrated at the Vatican when people were just thrusting their ipads in front of us to get shots of everything. We took lots of photos on that trip, lots of them of food, but none there by choice. There are places like the vatican that have been photographed enough by professionals that to me and my husband, we didn’t need to have our own photos to trigger memories. If I need to see this or that statue, it’s on the internet. And posing in front of a religious icon would have cheapened things for me. So it was probably our conscious choice not to photograph that place that heightened our annoyance at everyone else doing so. That being said, every meal there was personal for us. We’re foodies. I can see a photo on my phone and remember “that’s the night we got lost trying to find that specific restaurant and ended up at this wonderful place instead!” or “we were SO HUNGRY That day!” And that’s more important to us.

    • That is really good – we do tend to take a ‘tourist shot’, but ultimately the ones we love most are goofy shots of us actually DOING something. In DC it wasn’t the White House or monuments, but the backyard of the rental house and the insane food at Ben’s Chili Bowl!

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