To reach the top of a mountain and gaze out at a fluffy, white cloud forest is one of the best experiences I want to savour forever. However, I also felt the urge to snap a photo to share it on my social networks. But how much would I remember of my actual experience if I was continuously looking at the scene through a camera lens?
It is okay to take photos as a reminder of your trip, but taking a moment to savour the moment will be a longer lasting memory. When you put down the camera, you will actually see, smell, feel and experience your destination even more.
So how do you balance memories with enjoying the actual moment?
I looked back on some of my earlier travels in the nineties and realised that I loved to take photos of everything. Yes, we are talking about everything. From tourist attractions, hotels and even food. I can now admit, perhaps I went a little overboard.
There were some great experiences and I met some amazing people, but I now struggle to remember the feeling of those places. So from then on, I made a point of what I would take photos of and when I wanted to just be present and simply enjoy a place or an experience.
One such place I took this approach was interacting with locals near the Piazza Navona in Rome. Yes, I took photos of the touristy places, it’s almost an obligation to promote them to those back home who cannot travel. However, I have very few photos of the walk along the Tiber River which runs through the city. Or the conversation with the Italian lady in the church Sant’ Agnese in Agone.
Additionally, the first time I visited Kangaroo Island in my own State two and a half years ago, I put the camera down and simply watched the sea-lions frolic on the sand at Seal Bay. I still remember the playful, young pups sliding down the sand dunes above to land with a plop on the soft sand. This was a moment a camera could never catch – or at least not the feeling of watching such a free spirited animal playing.
It is these moments which are remembered long after a photo on social media has entertained home for a week. These moments and feelings cannot be replicated in a photo.
So, instead of taking a million photos, I now make a point of leaving the camera in the bottom of my bag for a day while travelling. This way I am not tempted to look at the world through a camera lens and I can enjoy the moment. Watching the sunset with my own eyes is a very different feeling than looking back on the photo of it later.
Of course, this doesn’t mean don’t take photos. By all means, take photos as a reminder of the great places you have been and the life changing experiences you had. It means while you are in an amazing new city, simply take a moment to sit back and feel its vibe. It will be the vibe you remember long after the photos disappear from your social media feed.