Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Photo of the Moment is not the Moment

Well over 15-20 years ago, I became heavily involved in photography. I enjoyed photography when I was in high school---just with a small, cheap camera, taking snapshots and dropping film at the drug store for development and prints. Years later, when working as a private investigator, I started acquiring my own expensive, professional camera equipment as part of the trade and I began developing my own black & white and then color film and prints. Having acquired good knowledge and experience, I later took up part-time work in a photo lab, working with even more sophisticated equipment and processes. In my spare time from both jobs, I pursued photography as an art, creating some beautiful works.

I was in the Army when I met a friend who years later would become my wife. When we were out and about, I would carry my cameras and lenses and would capture scenery, people, and other moments in time.

Then one day I put the camera down.

The friend was very confused. She had become quite accustomed to my being present with my cameras and would even offer my services to others. One day, I finally explained why: I had come to the realization that each moment was more important with me fully present rather than with me outside of it, trying to figure out how to record it. I realized that I never wanted to be looking at old pictures, longing for the past; I would prefer to exist today for better or worse.

I am sure that there is some value in reminiscing over those moments that formed us, even if only to explain them to others. Similarly, I am sure there is some value in thinking forward, if only to loosely plan a way to navigate tomorrow. Attachment to photos of the past or plans for the future, though, is simply not a meaningful way to live right now.

The message in both cases is simple: "There only is right now. Where are you?"

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