“Constantly using your camera diminishes the power of your memories. It seems you pay less attention when you are counting on your photographs as a memory aid.”
I love this quote, and it’s actually something I read after I wrote this post. The article in an Australia magazine called “Flow” highlighted how much we rely on pictures rather than enjoying the moment, with author Button choosing to draw his memories instead of using a camera. “I kept my smartphone close at hand and took pictures every day of literally every detailed that I noticed”, adding “it sometimes feels like the photos are the only images I have in my head; it feels like I don’t have any real memories” (Alain de Botton).
Filmmaking and videography is something I vowed to get into whilst travelling. My favourite YouTube videos have always been cinematic experiences, very much like Ben Brown, Do You Travel and Kolder. I made a go of it during my visit to the Sunshine Coast in early December, and it’s hard. But the one thing that stood out to me is the lack of attention and appreciation I gave to the place as I was too focused on making an ‘alright’ video.
I then made a plan of how I’m going to film my weekend in Sydney. I had the music planned and the style I wanted to go for and I couldn’t wait to film the fireworks. But that all changed a few days beforehand. My mum told me not to film anything and just enjoy my time there. It’s more than likely that I’ll never experience this again, so filming or even taking pictures of New Years Eve felt silly. My mum was right, as always. I wanted to take it all in and enjoy the moment, rather than worrying about what my pictures and videos will turn out like. The firework display will be all over YouTube and TV to remember it by anyway.
We filmed the countdown, and that was that. Every single person around me had one or two phones or cameras with them, filming the fireworks. Myself and Jack’s faces must have been a picture of ‘wow’ whilst watching, fully taking it all in. Whereas everyone else’s faces were serious, they were too busy watching the display through a tiny screen.
“We have an irresistible urge to capture, to hold onto things of beauty we encounter, to hold onto things of beauty we encounter, to be able to declare: I was here, I saw this, and it mattered to me. And photographs are a great way to avoid losing such precious moments from our memory” (Alain de Botton).
I admit that I spend too much time on my phone and on social media, but it wasn’t until that moment when I realised that as a traveller, enjoying the moment rather than stressing over the perfect picture or video, is much more important. I do find it sad how as humans, we have to “prove” we’ve done something and “show off” what we’re doing, rather than just sitting back and enjoying the experience you’ll never forget – even with no video or picture proof.
And ever since that moment, other than writing, perfect pictures for Instagram haven’t been a necessity. I love writing, and that’s why I worry far too much about my blog and the quality of content, but I’m not too worried about what my images look like, and I think ‘real’ images tell a better story anyway. So let’s put our phones down and start to enjoy our experiences.