"You're seeing the world through a lens instead of experiencing the moment."
"Why do you need a picture of this?"
"Put your camera away! Just be here!"
I get it. All admirable sentiments. But they're not true, not for me.
Travelers with cameras fall into two buckets:
- Those who take pictures to show to others.
- Those who take pictures because they love the act itself.
I'm in the second bucket. My camera is a talisman that enhances my "here and now" experience of a place. When I shoot, the moment isn't peppered with distractions about which Instagram filter to use or what my Facebook caption will be. I don't think of how many likes it'll get or if that handful of people I want to impress will see my Snapchat.
I think about composition. I look for light. I appreciate interesting lines and beautiful color contrasts. I'm an amateur, to be sure, but that's hardly the point.
Looking at a city with a camera in my hand makes me see the details. Instead of powering down a street, determinedly beelining towards a destination, I notice. I notice the tiny old ladies, walking arm in arm in the square. I spot every piece of street art on the route. I peer at the beautiful letterboxes on the weathered doors. I notice that Leo leans against the wall in an oh-so-cool way. I notice Emily's laugh, Marc's sheepish grin.
I won't snap constantly, but I will bring it everywhere. I don't need a photo of every moment of an evening. But I'm bound to take a few.
My camera makes me a better traveler. I'm not shooting for Instagram, though I do post some photos therein.
I'm shooting for me.
I'm shooting because the moment is special and I want to notice it.
So no, I won't put my camera away.