Travelling through the lens

I recently went on a fabulous girl’s trip to New York with two of my gal pals.

Miss O brought her DSLR Canon camera, and happily snapped away, recording our adventures over the 6 days. It was great getting all the photos from her at the end of the trip and looking over them, remembering what we’d gotten up to.

Miss J brought her eight year old Pentax Optio compact camera, which she fished out when tipsy on our first night, snapped a couple of random shots, and then deposited back into her handbag never to be seen again. I later found out her memory card is a mere 128KB, which she assures me was the height of storage when she bought it.

Their two completely different approaches to holidays raised some interesting thoughts. Do you completely immerse yourself in the experience, and come out the other end with nothing to show for it but the memories? Or do you keep a keen eye out for photo opportunities, taking advantage of moments of significance and keeping a permanent record of your travels?

Do you eat your food hot, as soon as it’s set in front of you on the table? Or do you sacrifice a bit of heat, so you can capture the dish and sigh over the memory of it later?

I have to admit it does make me smile to look at photos that I have, and it can trigger memories and emotions of times that have faded into the dimly lit, infrequently visited recesses of my mind.

But nothing frustrates me more than standing behind someone who is videoing a live event. I can’t help but looking at their tiny little preview screen, despite the real deal being right in front of me, and life-sized to boot. I bemoan the fact that they aren’t just enjoying the moment instead of worrying about recording it and probably never watching it again.

Or group posing while 7 different cameras are used to capture the “moment”. All I want to do is jump on this sandboard and get going down this dune already! Can’t we take these pictures after we’re done? No, I repeat, NO, you cannot just adjust the aperture again – put it on auto for pete’s sake!

Maybe these are extreme example however, because what I did notice about Miss O is this – she saw things that I didn’t. With her camera in her hand, she looked up, down, and all around her, constantly on the watch out for something a little unusual, or interesting, or just downright beautiful.

I looked at her photos and I saw the bakery we sat outside of. And I saw what I hadn’t seen that day. I didn’t see the amazing patterns that the fire escapes made above us. I didn’t see the sun dimpled reflection of the dark green foliage in the window front. And I didn’t see my smile as I shared a laugh with Miss J while we waited.

Whether you approach your travels through your lens, or with the enthusiasm of a kid with no worries about their electrical equipment getting damaged, it’s the fun you have on the way that counts. It doesn’t matter which way you choose, as long as you go – because wherever you end up in the world, you’ll find beauty and adventure all around you.

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4 thoughts on “Travelling through the lens

  1. What kills me is photo and video taking in art galleries… Especially when they never actually look up from the lens!
    And as for the group shot… One shot on one camera should do it. Then you hope and pray that the photo is shared. Better that than wanting to slap each and every camera-owning friend every time you go out!

  2. It’s something I worry about as well: how much does my obsession with photography (a) spoil my enjoyment and reduce the immersive element of what I’m in the midst of (I also obsess about my kit getting nicked!) and (b) how annoying is it for everyone else there that I’m looking for that great shot, especially the ones that others wouldn’t have noticed before (though trying to be original taking pictures on holiday is kind of impossible. I’m fairly sure the statue of liberty has had all of angles captured, for instance!)

    In the end I manage it by not taking more than one lens. It massively reduces the overhead of shot taking and the amount I nickable kit you’re carrying!

  3. Agree there is such a thing as too much time looking through a lens. I went to a concert recently – pretty much everyone watched it through their iPhones. It made me sad! I understand wanting to capture something great and relive it later – but how about taking the time to savour the experience while it’s happening?

    Unrelated – I’m going to New York later this year – anything I shouldn’t miss?

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