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  • Not A Photo Walk

    March 10, 2009

    The up side to taking a camera along with you wherever you go is that you come away with photographic evidence of the experience which allows you to recall and reconstitute the experience for years to come.

    The down side to taking a camera with you is that you are not really fully participating in the experience of whatever it is you are photographing.

    The fact of the matter is, you have this thing — this box — between you and the experience you are trying to capture and record.  And even if you are not looking through the box, composing and anticipating, you are mentally looking through the box, composing and anticipating. And even if you are not doing that, you are aware of this box hanging around your neck and you are always moving in such a way that you don’t bump the box or drop the box or injure the box.  Sometimes the box gets in the way of the very thing you treasure most – the experience.

    When I have my camera with me and Sean asks me to inspect a cricket on the sidewalk or a bug on the leaf, my hands are full of camera. And my mind is full of how am I going to use the box to capture the moment. And consequently I’m not fully available. And my kiddo is bright and he knows this.  So sometimes, I leave the camera at home because in trying to preserve and capture an experience of life, I actually miss out on it.

    Yesterday was another warm day and we went for another walk along the same route. I decided to leave the camera at home.

    If I had taken my camera with me, I might have captured the brilliant red cardinal that was perched on a branch of a tree that was foaming with white blossoms that were scatting in the breeze like confetti.  Instead Sean and I crouched quietly in the distance and admired it until it flew away. I might have captured Sean cat walking bravely across the top of a stone fence.  But instead I held his hand as he walked along.  I looked up at him and marveled at how handsome he is and how pretty his auburn hair is against the backdrop of an impossibly blue sky.

    If I’d had my camera with me I wouldn’t have been able to race him the final block home or hold his hand as we walked up the driveway.

    I love to  capture these golden days in pictures. But sometimes it’s better to capture them only in my heart instead.


    1. Kay says:

      That is so true… my daughter fed a dolphin once and instead of hovering behind the lens, I experienced it with her and the image is more memorable to me than if I’d taken a picture of it. : )

      March 10th, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    2. tom says:

      You are absolutely spot on with this. This is the biggest dilemma I have with cameras: you can either be there, or you can record it for later. Both have merit, but for different reasons.

      I was recently bemoaning the fact that on our last trip to Disneyland, I took way fewer pictures than I wanted to have; our 2008 vacation photo album was really sparse. My eldest daughter pointed out that it was okay, because I was busy having fun with them instead. I’m glad she sees it that way too.

      March 10th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    3. grammyscraps says:

      I lose either way..if I have the camera, I miss out on some of the experience. If I don’t, I spend my time deriding myself for not bringing the camera because “that” or “this” would have made a great shot.
      What a lovely walk you have…..

      March 10th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    4. Sarah at themommylogues says:

      This is very true. I think it’s just good to have balance.

      March 10th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    5. Tracy says:

      this is precisely why we have not taken as many pictures or videotape at school or other functions over the years, as we realized that we were missing the moment. We still take the camera, and we still record occasionally, but more and more, I prefer to store the moment in my heart.

      March 10th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    6. JanMary, N Ireland says:

      So true – and definitely spoke to me – I always have my camera with me. Maybe it needs to be left behind more.

      March 10th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    7. Amy says:

      Very thought-provoking – thank you.

      March 10th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    8. mythoughtsonthat says:

      I have often paused before leaving for some activity and asked myself: Do I really want to see this activity through the lens or do I want to see it for myself? Sometimes, I just leave the camera behind. Often, someone else may have one and I’ll ask them to send me a picture. Sometimes, I just keep the memories in my heart, no camera needed.

      March 10th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    9. Prairie Chick says:

      oh can I ever relate to this post. I spend more time WITHOUT my camera than WITH it but so many times I WISH I had it, and don’t, and it’s this forever tug of war… argh. I do try to get out once a week WITH my camera, but then I also like to be alone, it’s a form of theraply and worship for me. I love your blog!

      March 10th, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    10. Prairie Chick says:

      hm. I wonder if I was trying to say therapy or theraplay… good play on words there, unintentional though it was 😉

      March 10th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    11. Iota says:

      “And even if you are not looking through the box, composing and anticipating, you are mentally looking through the box, composing and anticipating.”

      I sometimes feel that blogging is like this. The box is the bit of your brain that turns the real life experience into a word story. It is one of the dangers of blogging, I think. You become an observer of your own life, instead of a participant.

      If you have both those boxes, it must be bad!

      March 10th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    12. Donna W says:

      Wow, you have made me look at something in a way I had not seen it before. I like the comment just above mine, too (Iota’s). Food for thought indeed!

      March 10th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    13. Sue says:

      Exactly! Sometimes when I would watch a graduation or other special event on the video, I would feel like I wished I had been there– I was, but was looking at it thru a little black and white viewfinder. My husband got smart about that before I did and refused to video. Therefore, our videos almost always show our children with their daddy, not their mommy, because guess who was stuck behind the camera? It is a dilemma— and sometimes it is sweeter to just have been there– totally.

      March 10th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    14. HarryJacksMom says:

      Well stated, as always! I’ve done the same thing intentionally, the heart memory is precious, but I do miss the details as they fade over time.

      March 10th, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    15. Amy says:

      Sometimes I struggle to find balance between capturing the moment or just enjoying being with my boy. Thanks for reminding me what is truly important.

      I’m going to go snuggle my boy before he falls asleep.

      March 10th, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    16. Katherine says:

      This is why I love your blog. You say what I think only I don’t think so eloquently. I love the photos of your walk and your thoughts about not photographing your walk.

      March 10th, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    17. diXymiss says:

      eXactly! For me, it’s all about balance. Still trying to figure it out here…

      March 11th, 2009 at 3:59 am

    18. JoLyn says:

      You have put into words what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And said it so well. Do our kids think our lives with them are just blog fodder? I wonder…

      March 11th, 2009 at 7:36 am

    19. carla turner says:

      well said….

      March 11th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    20. Brigitte says:

      Good girl! I think we all want to find that balance between the two options. We want to be there for our child, but also need the photographic evidence to boost our aging, failing memories. 😉

      March 11th, 2009 at 8:35 am

    21. Jenny-Jenny says:

      Beautifully written. I think it was done better with words.

      March 11th, 2009 at 9:15 am

    22. Shoe says:

      Ditto. Capture the experience in your heart and memory first. I say a small prayer when I see a beautiful sight “Thank You God for letting me see that sight or that beautiful sight!” and go on my way.

      The memories are in my heart. As I learned the hard way, pictures can go with the wind. Depending on God’s will they may be lost.

      March 11th, 2009 at 10:34 am

    23. Barbara H. says:

      We have found the same thing with video cameras. We didn’t take nearly as many videos as we thought we would because it seemed to be in the way, to take away from the experience.

      March 11th, 2009 at 11:57 am

    24. Nan says:

      So true!

      March 11th, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    25. Terry says:

      Best of both !
      You have the best of both you have your heart moments and photo moments.
      A a much older woman and mom who home schooled many years ago when it was in its infancy I promise you this, that as you go through the many photo notes you have that the other camera – less moments will also flood your heart and mind with precious remembrances of the experience so relax and know that there is both time for the camera and time to let go and let God put His photos in your heart and memory .
      Keep up the good work. I am so blessed by your photos and shared experieces with nature.Thank you for the blessing.

      March 11th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    26. Julia says:

      I totally get this. I often find myself struggling to put the camera down, so that I can be more involved in the moment. But I fear that I won’t remember that moment fully and I’ll want to have something to help me remember it. I’m going to get better at putting the camera down and participating in the moment. But maybe not this weekend at SeaWorld????!!!

      March 11th, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    27. Melissaand3boys says:

      So much truth! It’s good to be able to experience the moment rather than craft the moment sometimes. The camera is a marvelous tool, but it does remove you from the experience. You so articulately express this idea. When so much of your daily life is potentially blog material in a way it can be like living with the camera on you.

      March 11th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    28. Carrie says:

      This is why I’m so bad at photography – I forget to take pictures during family stuff & time with my baby b/c I’m so busy living it!

      March 11th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    29. Sarah @ says:

      I think this sort of thing is all about moderation and balance. Sometimes it’s better to live in the moment.

      But sometimes I regret not having a photograph to remember a moment by.

      March 11th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    30. Lysa TerKeurst says:

      Oh such a beautiful, beautiful post.

      March 11th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    31. poppy fields says:

      So true. I’ve lived in several touristy spots, and seeing people literally walking around with a camera glued to their face makes me sad for all that they are missing.

      March 12th, 2009 at 8:33 am

    32. LIB says:

      You captured it beautifully in word pictures. Very evocative!

      March 12th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    33. Shalee says:

      One thing that I love about you, AM, is that you see mothering as a joy. It’s by no means perfect or fun-filled every moment, but you capture the ones that you know will stick in your heart in the many years to come.

      Thanks for being you and letting us come along for the walks too.

      March 14th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    34. Tara says:

      Thank you for the reminder. I was just feeling guilty today that it has been so long since I’ve taken any photos of my children. I’m feeling slightly better about it now.

      Still have to pick up the camera tomorrow methinks.

      March 15th, 2009 at 9:33 am

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