Put Down the Camera: Stop Documenting, Start Living
Like many women, I developed a serious photography obsession once I became a mother. My son was the most adorable baby I’d ever laid eyes on and I couldn’t wait to document his every move. But 4,793 pictures later, I realized it was time to put the camera down.
Here’s why you should stop documenting and start living:
1. Lasting memories don’t require a camera.
Human beings have five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. When you’re focused on getting that perfect shot, you’re neglecting four of the five senses and essentially robbing yourself of the chance to fully savor the experience. Repeat after me: capturing the moment isn’t the same thing as living the moment. In fact, a study by researchers from Fairfield University in Connecticut found that taking too many photos of an event keeps the brain from forming detailed memories of what actually happened.
2. You’re only creating more work for yourself down the road.
As a photographer, your job isn’t done when you press the shutter. Digital images need to be stored, organized, shared, and backed up — all of which takes time from your busy schedule. If you’re planning to make a physical scrapbook, you must also consider the time and monetary cost of printing your favorite pictures.
3. Scarcity breeds desire.
It seems hard to believe, but it wasn’t really that long ago when families had very few photographs of their members. Photos were only taken on special occasions, but every photo was treated like a cherished work of art simply because so few images were available. It’s a basic principle of marketing that the more abundant something becomes, the less we truly appreciate its worth.
4. Life is about more than pleasing your social media followers.
It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself. Does the thrill of accumulating “likes” drive your photography obsession? If so, take a deep breath and remind yourself that “likes” are shallow interactions that are not a true reflection of your self worth. Instead of engaging in what Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, co-authors of New York Times bestsellers like Crucial Conversations, call trophy hunting, try to focus on building real-life relationships.
5. When you take too many pictures of your child, you may be creating a little narcissist.
Sure, babies are adorable. But, constantly snapping pictures of every move your child makes sets her up to think that her physical appearance is of the utmost importance. Instead of preserving precious memories of the toddler years, you could very well be inadvertently creating a vain teen with a serious narcissistic streak. (If you’re not a parent, keep in mind that the same principle applies to obsessive selfies too.)
6. You’re not really that that great of a photographer.
Last but not least, let’s not overlook the fact that some things are best left to the pros. If you’re traveling, stop at a gift shop and pick up a few postcards or a book of professionally produced images. The quality will be initially better than anything you’d produce on your own. If you’re a parent, splurge on a professional family portrait session so you both you and your children can be in the shot.
Photo: Zorah Olivia via Flickr