That statement sound a little hypocritical coming from a photographer? Let me explain. I saw an article while trawling the web, as I usually do for my Weekly Roundup articles, and it got me thinking about a subject I am always ranting and raving about; I have quite a few of those (rants and raves). We all have them (hopefully) and one of mine is people being seemingly glued to their cameras / phones. No matter where they are or what is going on for some people the best way to view it is while staring at a screen, usually taking some pretty poor photos or videos.
The article is called “A world transfixed by screens” and can be found here. There are some amazing and poignant photos but mixed in among those are ones that make me hang my head. This one for instance.
I know I’m being judgemental and moaning but I truly feel we have become obsessed with documenting everything. And not just the important or amazing things but the mundane activities we do almost every second of the day, even what we eat! I’m probably sounding like a very grumpy old man (I’m 27) but please don’t mistake me for a technophobe, I am anything but. I’m glued to my phone for much of the day and am always excited about technological advances in lots of fields.
With the progression of phone camera technology we have now become more inclined to photograph everything. There’s no huge problem with that and if you enjoy doing it then please continue to do so but I feel as though you’re missing something.
I watched a film a while back called “The secret life of Walter Mitty”. I connected with it. During one scene Sean Penn’s character, a pro photographer, sits atop a mountain in the Himalayas (I believe) awaiting the appearance of a very rare animal. When the creature appears and Sean (Sean Penn) hasn’t yet taken the photo Walter (Ben Stiller) asks “when are you going to take it” to which Sean replies “sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, I mean me, personally. I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it”.
That scene precisely describes how I feel about this trend. It takes you away from that moment. When I’m out photographing Deer in my local park I will often stop and sit for 10 or 15 minutes and just watch. I don’t take every photo that comes by. Sometimes I just like to be in that moment.
OK. This is all starting to sound a little hippy now, let’s bring it back to photography. Another factor to consider is that by falling into this habit we stop thinking about out shots. One of the biggest tips for amateur photographers is to slow down. I don’t care what you are shooting. Slow down, observe your surroundings and pick your shot. One great shot is better than 100 mediocre ones. Isn’t it?
Well, that’s my rant over. Next time you’re sitting in front of a beautiful sunset, at a famous landmark, or eating your dinner. Put down your camera and live. You never know, your photography may improve if you do.