I used to hate looking at pictures. I always felt like I was being forced into moments that weren’t mine. A strange sense of voyeurism that was thrust upon me. Of course, this was before digital cameras were pervasive and when phones were used to call people. You know, way back when – like the year 2000.
Since then, I have upgraded to a digital camera with more memory than could be found on my first computer. And I travel everywhere with it. Just the other day, I was trying to sort through my travel photos from trips abroad. And they all started to blur together. There were buildings, landscapes, and the occasional self-portrait. You know the one, arm stretched out, head tilted back trying to get as far from the camera lens as possible. A look of half concentration mixed with an awkward half smile dominates the screen. Like when I went skiing at Chamonix (which, by the way, has to be one of the best places to visit in Europe. Especially when it doesn’t stop snowing.).
I realized just how dominant photographs had become when I traveled. There were plenty of memories to sort through. And plenty of pictures which were just that – pictures. Places I couldn’t remember seeing and things I couldn’t remember doing. Sometimes it seems I had spent more time on trying to take pictures than I did on enjoying the moments those pictures were trying to capture. Technology and traveling with a camera had become such a part of my trips that it had seemingly gone from being a blessing to a curse (Karen wrote about this very topic when traveling with a netbook).
Then it happened. I forgot my camera. And it was kind of liberating. I didn’t have to constantly be pulling it out to snap a photo. I didn’t have to worry about forgetting it. I didn’t have to charge the batteries or upload pictures or take awkward self-portraits. Instead I bought a couple of postcards. Turns out their photography skills are just a bit better than mine.
Would I suggest traveling without a camera all the time? Absolutely not. Some things you just have to have pictures of. But I would definitely suggest putting it away. If only for a day.