Why I Won't Put My Camera Away

"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:

  1. Those who take pictures to show to others.
  2. 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. 

Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.