As I went for my morning jog I discovered a new route with the most spectacular views of a red brick villa nested among a mountain of green trees looking at the valley below. I quickly pulled my phone to capture that site…. And then it struck me like a flash (quite literally)!!! What happened to the moment of joy that I experienced viewing the most picturesque view…. It was gone!!!!!
You see life is a string of such unforgettable moments. In a creative fraction of a second life provides you with an unforgettable moment. Your eye sees the composition, emotions give it a colour and intuition commits it to memory…. And then it is gone. We’re offered innumerable such moments all through our lives no matter how short it is. What we do with them…How we react to them…our opinion of them influence the quality of our life, whether or not we acknowledge them.
Photography, I am sure must have started as a means to capture the beauty of a moment. They say, a picture speaks a thousand words. Photographs can grab our attention and speak directly to our emotions. Photographs matter because they freeze moments of our lives, which pass sometimes unnoticed. It helps us relive an amazing moment with distinct clarity. To one who is not articulate it becomes a medium of expression.
Cameras and Photography have a come a long way since their inception. Tiny mobile phones with great resolution have replaced clunky pieces of equipment. With that, everyone has now become a ‘photographer’. The urge to capture every moment has become stronger, the rewards greater and the act of documenting easier than it has ever been. Its like people have an app running in the background of their mind that scans for moments to memorialize. On milestone days, it just moves to the forefront. But do we ever stop to think about whether or not we are striking the right balance between documenting and living a moment?
I am blessed to belong to the ‘transition generation’. Growing up when photos were a luxury, rearing children when they became rare but definitely more accessible and now living in an era when people find joy in photographing every aspect of their lives or those of their loved ones. I can see the transition of the art from being a luxury to a necessity. From being a medium of art to becoming a form of competition.
When I look at my favourite photographs I see lots of special and amazing moments. I am rewarded not only with the visual reminder, but an emotional reminder since every photo taken is also part of my life’s experience. I remember being a bride living the romance of the moment uncaring of the photographs being taken. Now many years later as I flick through the hard copy album, I can even recall what my husband was saying to me at the click of every picture. Photographs taken by my adoring husband of our son and I help us relive the day it was taken. As we parents captured that moment in our hearts we let the camera capture it for our son to see when he was older.
Photographing and documenting has become a social compulsion now, which has has made it oddly competitive. Posting photos of their little ones doing little things has become a norm. Viewers with kids of similar age enthusiastically hitting “Like”, sometimes jealous that their little ones were not as clever or they didn’t click a moment their tots were being clever! It’s keeping up with the Joneses … and their milestone Facebook pics.
Back in our day, remembering, was easy – it was second nature. Today it piggybacks on something light — sharing. The short-term rewards of quick status updates unlock the long-term rewards of a collection of moments to look back on and love. Every now and then I wonder if kids of this generation even think of what life was like before cameras. Are they able to grasp the concept of going out to do things and just doing them, I guess, without pausing or even thinking of pausing to capture … anything?
Oh I know that memory is fallible. And I’ve seen even ordinary moments transform for the better. I remember a photograph taken of an unsuspecting me trying to distract my little boy from crying with histrionics only a two year old can enjoy. His tear stained cheeks belying his laughter laden lips looking down adoringly at me while I am smiling up at him over a tiny victory!!! A moment captured to perfection. A silly irritation gone. A deeper joy magnified.
Memorising a moment is a natural process. What is important is not the memories we have but rather the quality of our experiences. What we do now instead is to focus on the memory of the moment rather than the experience of it. There is no denying that taking a photo can be a great way to encapsulate an experience, or share it with others who weren’t there. But photography, too, is volatile, and people get caught up in capturing every single moment rather than enjoying what’s in front of them. We have forgotten how to find satisfaction in each experience in the present, instead constantly looking for satisfaction to be had in the future through our memories of the past. Perhaps we need to have a little more faith in our mind’s ability to relive certain experiences than to rely on a myriad of pixels to do it for us.
You’ve heard it before – “Life is short.” Tomorrow is promised to no person. We all owe a death. But it’s not the death we live for, it’s the life in between. When you’re in your 20s, you think you’re untouchable – you’ll live forever. When you’re in your 30s, you live as if you still have most of your life ahead of you. When you’re in your 40s, you start to realize that you have less time than you thought to accomplish your dreams. When you’re in your 50s, 60s and 70s, your friends start to pass with alarming frequency reinforcing the reality that your time is limited. So guys, get out and about. Do – because life is short not because it’s a Kodak Moment. Love because there is a thrill in being loved back. Laugh freely without wondering whether its your strong side the camera is capturing!!! Live the moment and let technology not dictate the moments you would like to remember!