Author Topic: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?  (Read 1913 times)

Cy

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Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« on: September 14, 2016, 12:58:39 AM »
    I'm facing a great dilemma. I love travelling, even to places that impress nobody else, such as small villages, suburbs or "unremarkable" areas near and far. I love telling stories of my adventures and I absolutely adore taking others on any form of travel, even if it's just biking to the outskirts of the city.

    However, taking photos has always caused me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I want to remember everything, and not taking a photo of one particular stranger that impressed me or a dog that served as our temporary companion or a peculiar tree or rock that evoked something... well, it might make me lose that memory completely. I enjoy going through my archives and going Ah! Yeah, I remember that, it was the time we biked all the way up to X, I almost forgot that! It means so much to me!. If I don't snap what's happening around me or what evokes something in me, I fear its meaningless loss and "investment" in that I could share it with others and maybe spark something in them.

    On the other... It can of course lead to a certain detachment from it all. The feeling of abundance leading to devaluing. If everything can be memorised by my pocket computer, then nothing needs to be memorised by me. And I'll be honest: I have thousands of photos in my archive that I'm not sure about the importance of. There's something special about going on a trip that will prove... unrecordable. A "hidden" experience that's as interrupted as it is corruptable by human folly and forgetfulness...

    So where do you stand? Is snapping photos of everything, especially minor, "only I know why that mattered to me" things, a help in preserving and enjoying the adventures of the past, or is it just pickling things so that we don't have to outgrow them in their digital permanence? How do you deal with forgetting small, endearing things that you haven't recorded in any way, especially from travel? Do you have an issue with not wanting to forget anything? How do you deal with it, if you do?

limeandpepper

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2016, 03:08:37 AM »
I think you're overthinking this. Take pictures if photography is your hobby or if you like looking at the pictures afterwards. Don't take pictures if you feel it detracts from the experience and if you don't feel any great desire to relive your travels through the photos.

Personally - I enjoy photography and I LOVE looking at pictures afterwards and remembering stuff and laughing about random things with my boyfriend when we look through them together. In the same way I am really glad that there are photos from my childhood, it's so much fun to look at them again with family, and reminisce and giggle.

Back in the day I wasn't that into photography, and wasn't diligent about storing the photos that I did occasionally take. To be honest, I kind of regret not having more pictures from those days - as mentioned above, they are a positive addition to my life. So for me, my stance is that given the choice, I'd definitely rather have photos than not.

Perhaps you can try a trip without a camera and see how you feel. Also, if you think you have too many photos, it wouldn't hurt to do a cull. I'm sure you don't need all of them. Some may be near-duplicates, or they just don't do anything for you, so you can go ahead and delete those.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2016, 03:35:57 AM »
You can still get instant (prints out as you take the pic) and and disposable (has X pics it can take and later develop) cameras. If you know you can only take, say, 24 pictures, you'll be sure to take them only when you really, really want to. And the rest of the time you'll just experience things.

swick

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2016, 08:20:26 AM »
There is something about looking through a lens that allows you to view the world differently. You slow down, you notice your surroundings more, you look for the unexpected, for light, for meaning.

This is why I will never travel without my camera. That being said, you have to find a happy medium. There are times when you should just put your camera down, or take a picture or two and then LIVE the moment.

One thing I learned recently about myself was the "act" of photography is as important as the result. I was recently on a trip to Bostom and Salem. We toured and poked into many hidden places in North Boston while a Fisherman's festival was going on. I took some portraits for work. I had some amazing pictures in Salem.

Then, my memory card suffered a full catastrophic failure - I almost always run a backup, and swap out my cards, create copies. This time I didn't even have a chance.

At first I was super, super bummed. I'm upset about the work pics -but otherwise, it really made me realize that the main thing about taking pictures for me is how I see the world. Once in a while I get nostalgic and look back on my travel pictures. But many times I don't. It was an interesting revelation for me.

nereo

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2016, 08:59:12 AM »
I'll throw out two thoughts here:
1) One of the most important tools in a photographer's workflow is "send to trash".  With digital we have the ability to store every crappy shot forever, which quickly results in what oyu are describing... mountains of photos you never go through.  Every time you shoot, tag and organize your photos and whittle them down to a few dozen (at most).  Those will be your memories.

2) as Swick said, looking through a camera lens makes you view the world differently... more critically.. more slowly.  Avoid the temptation to always carry around a 'walkabout' wide-angle-to-super-zoom, which encourages you to distance yourself from everything you see.  Try using only a fixed wide-angle lens; it will force you to get up closer, interact, and view the world closer to the way you actually experience it with your own eyes. Bonus - better image quality with primes.

ETA: Another adage; the best camera for any particular shot is hte one you have with you at the time.  Another reason I favor a smallish mirrorless camera with a fixed lens when traveling, rather than my bulky dSLR with an 18-200mm lens.  The former is unobtrusive and slides into my pocket.  THe latter I save for when I'm specifically going somewhere to get a specific set of shots.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2016, 09:01:50 AM by nereo »

Cy

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2016, 11:55:38 AM »
Ok, you guys have vastly overestimated me, I am far more of an archivist than a photographer. I don't have it as my hobby, nor do I even own a camera. I'm talking about my smartphone purely. We did feel like buying a more expensive camera, but we dropped the idea since it didn't stand the test of the delay. I'm purely talking about smartphone photos and the fear of forgiving small memories here.

nereo

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2016, 11:59:47 AM »
Ok, you guys have vastly overestimated me, I am far more of an archivist than a photographer. I don't have it as my hobby, nor do I even own a camera. I'm talking about my smartphone purely. We did feel like buying a more expensive camera, but we dropped the idea since it didn't stand the test of the delay. I'm purely talking about smartphone photos and the fear of forgiving small memories here.

smartphones are capable of taking great pictures too.  My advice still stands; archive what you shoot and be judicious about deleting pictures.

I take photos virtually everywhere I go, but then again photography *is* a passion of mine.

Samuel

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Re: Cameras / taking photos - what's your stance?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2016, 12:07:47 PM »
Another vote for just trusting your gut...and for aggressively culling the unimportant shots afterwards. It may seem like storage is basically unlimited so who cares but there is a psychological cost to digital clutter just like physical clutter. It also helps you take fewer throwaway shots in the future if you realize you're just going to toss them out once you get home. It's a way of tuning your antennae for the shots you will actually find valuable enough to want to revisit.

I vacillate a lot on this. Generally speaking the more I've traveled the fewer pictures I've taken. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a true photo walk intently trying to craft some exquisite images, but more often I just shoot specific smaller things that I know will bring me back to that time and place when I look at them later. I'll skip the pseudo postcard shot of the Pantheon that hundreds of people took that same day but I'll cherish the rushed shot of silhouetted strangers huddling with me under the portico waiting for a surprise rain shower to pass by and remember the impromptu chat I had with another traveler under "Rome's umbrella", exactly as people have been doing for nearly two thousand years.

In daily life I do take a decent number of cellphone photos, but usually only keep 1 or 2 from any given situation. I find that is plenty to bring back detailed memories of the experience.