Why do we take so many pictures?
Earlier this week, I enjoyed a short stay at the beach in celebration of my birthday. There is something about the ocean that makes me feel at home. I took a long walk on the beach one night and was quite entertained by all of the people who were attempting to capture the perfect picture of the sun setting behind Haystack Rock.
How did I know that is what they were doing? Because that was the first thought that crossed my mind when I got out there. I wanted to get just the right photo not only for my own memory but to share with my friends and my followers. I walked. Took a couple pictures. Walked some more. Flipped my phone to landscape for what was surely going to be The One. Walked some more. Realized, nope, this was The Spot.
Before I knew it, I had a bunch of photos that after review pretty much looked the same. As I stood there scanning through what I had captured, I realized that I was so busy trying to get the right photo that I was completely missing the experience of the sunset.
I put my phone away. Planted my feet close enough to sense the waves but far enough to not be forced to dance with them. And then I closed my eyes and absorbed the moment.
I could feel the warmth of the sun and the cool of the breeze. I could hear the waves, the sounds of others nearby and the birds overhead. I could taste the salt in the air and I could feel the dampness of the sea spray on my skin.
As I opened eyes, I realized I was no longer just watching the sunset, I was fully experiencing it.
I think we get caught up in taking photos for a number of reasons. Perhaps it’s a way to not forget what we saw or maybe it serves as proof to share with others. Whatever the reason, I’d like to invite you to think about why you are taking the picture in the first place.
If you are looking to truly capture the experience, it's time to try something different. I want you to remember the moment with all of your sensory abilities (not just what you see or capture as an image).
Let’s give this a trial run right now. For the next few moments, I want you to become fully aware of what you are currently experiencing.
Let’s start with your eyes closed.
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
What do you taste?
What are you touching or what is touching you?
What do you feel outside of your body?
What do you feel inside your body?
Now open your eyes and notice what you see around you?
As you go through each of these senses, describe them in the juiciest details that you can think of. For example, it’s not just a yellow wall. It’s a soft, sweet yellow wall that reminds me of early morning sunshine. The texture of the wall is like an eggshell and the corners of the room have an imperfection that says they were carefully made by hand rather than aggressively perfected by tools.
Have some fun with this. Get curious. And trust that your body will help you to remember things that you will never capture with your phone. Like the fact that every time I smell roses, I think of my great grandma.