Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fotohut. It's Phabulous.

I’ve never taken pictures on a vacation or a trip before, outside of a few spontaneous, low-quality shots with the camera on my cell phone. For a while it was just unnecessary, as the only trips I went on were with my family, and my sister took more than enough photos for all four of us. But then I grew up and started going places without them, and even though my sister was no longer around to cover for me, I still never brought a camera. Maybe it was force of habit; maybe I was just being contrarian; or maybe I was still mad at cameras for taking so many bad school pictures of me. Whatever the reason, at various points over the past 24 years, I’ve spent time in Paris, London, Rome and Toronto (not as impressive, but I felt like this list needed a fourth) without ever taking a picture for my own amusement.

But now I’m in the Australian outback (the real one, not the steakhouse), and this is no longer the case.

To be fair, this trip is different from previous ones, as it’s an assignment, not a vacation. I’m here to report and write an article, and it made sense to bring a camera with me to help add a visual dimension to the story (although, as I’m sure you can tell by now, my prose is often so vivid that it renders photography irrelevant).

So most of the pictures I’ve taken so far have been for work rather than for pleasure. Still, there is some amazing scenery out here, and since I typically already have a camera around my neck…well, it seems silly not to use it.

Overall, taking these photos has been very enjoyable and mainly reinforced my belief that not bringing a camera anywhere for the first quarter of my life was probably due to some odd and ultimately pointless type of stubbornness. It’s cool to thumb/scroll through things you’ve taken pictures of, and remembering fun experiences is much easier when you have a visual reminder of what those fun experiences looked like.

Still, having now done both, there is one thing about not taking photos that I think is superior to taking photos: it makes it much easier to live in the moment. When I’m taking a picture of something, it’s hard for me to be fully engrossed in the present since there are so many things for Future Eddie to be concerned about: how the photo will look on my computer, what other people will think of it, what clever caption to write underneath it, where to hide the body, etc.

It’s an annoying part of living in a world where it’s so easy to figure out what anyone else is doing at any given time. In some respects, actually having fun has become secondary to letting people know how much fun you’re having. It’s not enough just to go to a concert anymore; you have to photograph the concert, tweet about the concert, Facebook about the concert, basically do all sorts of things to let people know that you were there and you had a great fucking time and, damn it, they should’ve come with you. It can make sitting down and enjoying the music difficult.

Look, I own a sort of expensive camera now, so I’ll probably continue bringing it with me on trips if only because of my stinginess. And I certainly don’t mean to denigrate photography, which has been around for much longer than Facebook and Twitter and does have a few decent capabilities. I just think it’s healthy to put the camera down every now and then and simply enjoy a gorgeous landscape or a night at the bar without worrying about having something to show for it later. If you’re really in a situation worth photographing, you won’t need a picture to keep its memory alive, and it won’t matter how many other people know what you did or what you saw. What will matter is the experience you had while you were there, not the experience you have while looking at it later.

Also, Instagram is not worth a billion dollars. I don’t really know anything about economics, but I feel pretty confident about this.

No comments: