We all have succumbed to the desire to take photographs at every conceivable moment. While on holiday, every sight must be captured so that we can relive those magical experiences at our leisure. So, we go on a clicking spree. But how often do we return to look at these? Probably never. We feel satisfied that they have been stored. We forget to forward them to family or friends and they remain unseen.
I was heartened to read that scientists have found that taking photographs may be counterproductive. They say that the act of taking pictures to document memorable experiences impairs people’s memories of the event. I am one of those who is content to let others chronicle important occasions and not have to worry about lighting and focus. I do have a rather expensive camera bought on impulse as I had to attend a family wedding in Spain. First I had to ask a photographer friend of mine to show me how to use it. As he patiently showed me its various features and how to operate the gadget, I could feel my brain shutting down. You’ve heard about a little learning being dangerous. Well, an overload of information can result in brain freeze too.
Sadly, my camera remained unused in my bag, completely forgotten as I got caught up in the excitement of the moment.
Growing up, I remember an Agfa camera at home, rarely used but often manhandled as we fought over who would use it first. If my parents had had their way, it would have been placed on the mantelpiece to be admired as a curio.
Then came the camera phone which changed everything. Now everyone was convinced that they had an unerring eye for detail and oodles of creativity. I, too, got caught up in the madness initially until I realised that there was no way I was going to look at all the shots I had taken. For example, on a recent trip to the United States, I discovered that I had taken around 15 photographs of the ocean. I had no idea why I had taken so many similar pictures. I peered closely to see if there was anything of significance in the background, but couldn’t find anything of interest. That’s when I decided to leave the task of recall to my memory or to the superior skills of others.
The next holiday I took things were made easier as I left the task of clicking to a friend who is a professional photographer. So I have a superb collection of pictures and videos, which have elicited envy in those whom I sent them to.
There was a time when the wedding album was enough to strike dread in the heart of any visitor. As soon as you sat down, an array was brought out for your delight. As you thumbed through the pages, you were given the rundown on who was who, whether or not you wanted to know. This was a tricky situation. Show too much attention and you were in danger of another set of albums being brought out for you to view. It was best to get through this with stoicism even as you vowed never to inflict this torture on others.
So, the next time you are on holiday or at a reunion of friends or family, I would advise you to just enjoy the moment and focus on the people or sights around you. Savour what’s in front of you and forget about taking the perfect shot, as stepping outside the moment to take a picture means you are disengaging yourself from engagement with loved ones or the wonders of Nature.
Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.