A few weeks ago I read an opinion piece in USA today in which the author proudly proclaimed that he had just returned from a vacation in Hawaii and had only taken one great photograph. In fact he said it was the only one he had taken during the entire trip. His feeling was he would rather maintain the warm memories in his mind than with photographic image. A fair point, but memories fade over time, at least they do for me. But he also posited that if he didn’t take the time to try to capture the perfect picture(s), he could spend more time enjoying the experience of being in such a beautiful place with people he cared about. I believe that can be true as well, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. I was thinking about this article when my adult daughter called from her home on the West Coast. As we were talking about what was new in our lives, I told her about the new car we had just purchased. I said I could take a photo and message it to her but that I wouldn’t post it on Facebook because I didn’t want to humblebrag about our new vehicle. She chuckled, saying something to the effect that I had no problem posting photos of our travels on social media. By posting those photos am I saying to my friends and family, look how much cooler my life is than yours? That certainly isn’t my intent. But her comment did make me think.
I have always enjoyed taking photographs but have no formal training save for one digital photography class for beginners at the local technical college a few years ago. I wanted to learn how to take advantage of the features of my new camera and figure out how to better utilize the iPhoto app on my computer. My husband and I had retired a few years earlier and finally had the time and resources to take trips to places we had only dreamed about when we were working and raising our family. The first trip we took post-retirement was to the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti in 2007. It was our first trip overseas ever and I wanted to capture the beauty of the islands as much for me as to share with my family and friends. I wasn’t on Facebook back then and, in fact, knew almost nothing about social media. It was just an extension of all the photographs that I had taken up to that point, only the location was more exotic. And I was just beginning to learn how to download images to my computer. Since then we have taken many more trips and started to share a few of the many photos I have taken on Facebook. My Facebook friends are all people who I personally know and none have ever complained about my postings. My intent is never to humblebrag, but rather to encourage others to travel and to pursue their own dreams. And travel and dream they do. I feel like I learn a little more about them with each new post. It’s a way to stay connected.
But the real reason I take so many photographs (I have more than 50,000 on my computer and several thousand more prints), is that I enjoy the process. I enjoy reliving the journeys and it encourages me to seek out the next adventure. Photographs help to fill in the timeline of our lives. To see how family and friends have changed and grown over the years. I don’t consider myself old, but I do recognize that my memory is not what it used to be. I hope that the images I have stored on my computer and in the boxes and albums in my closet will help to fill in the gaps so that I don’t ever forget the places I have been and the people who have helped to make my life so rich. And I hope that my family and friends don’t mind me taking them along for the ride.