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.