Taking It All In

Last night, I went up to Greenville to watch the fireworks with a couple people from my community group and Church family. I also took up my camera to take some photos and video of the firework show.

As the night settled around us and the fireworks started to light up the sky, I couldn’t get my camera to work (in the dark, I kept hitting the wrong button to start the video). I took a couple photos, then took the tripod down, sat back and enjoyed the show.

One of the guys I was sitting with stated that the reason he stopped pursuing photography was because he had stopped taking everything in.

I’ve noticed that I do this more often. I take my camera places, but don’t take that many photos because I am too focused on enjoying what is around me. On life as it happens. On the people around me. On the adventures.

Viewing life through a lens limits your vision.

As a photographer, sometimes you have to put the camera down and live life to the fullest. Sometimes you have to relearn how to take in the world around you. Stop looking at the world like a thing to photograph, but as something to experience.

A photograph can capture an image every day. But vision is only one-fifth of how we take in the world. How can you capture the other four senses? Well, you can’t. Unless you take your viewer to that exact place in that exact moment in time to experience it with you.

Hmmm…. Sounds like you should always take someone on the adventure with you.

I’ve traveled a lot. And my camera has always been close at hand. But so many times I just stand there with my eyes closed in the attempt to catch the essence of the place, before trying to capture it in an image.

Sometimes I just don’t even think about the camera because the experience is just too amazing to take time away from the adventure to take a photograph what I am seeing. Sometimes I have made the choice not to take a photo, because I knew that I could not properly capture the emotions, the struggles, or the experience that I was part of.

I think every photographer should take time away from the camera to rediscover what it means to experience life. Spend time playing in the sand. Hike to a waterfall and bathe beneath the falls (or swim in the pools). Run down a trail or bike across the city. Breathe in the fresh mountain air.

Don’t get caught up about composing the perfect image. But learn how to make a photograph part of that experience.

And sometimes that means ignoring your camera.