vacation photography: the bigger picture.

thac pongour waterfall dalat vietnam

wouldn’t it be so nice to have your very own photographer / videographer on vacation with you? lurking behind the scenes to capture all of those candid moments and glances that can never be recreated. the ability to simply live your adventure without having to think about documenting it? to have photos of you & your plus one together that aren’t, “stand here, smile and hope the stranger taking this doesn’t run off with my camera or cut our heads off in the picture.”

i’d love to have photos that better reflect how we felt in certain moments. you know what i mean? when you look at editorial spreads of vacation photos and you think you look that way – effortless outfit, the wind blowing in your naturally wavy hair, the sun on your face as you walk on the beach at sunset… i know all the women out there know what i’m saying. but when you bring out the camera to capture that real moment, it immediately feels awkward, staged and the .jpegs just aren’t quite the same as that professional Free People ad.

but this brings me to the bigger picture: where should the line be drawn between enjoying moments and capturing them? can you really do both simultaneously? and the greater debate: are photographs good or bad for the memory? 

i once read something about a world traveler who didn’t own a camera or take photos – and his rationale stuck with me. his basis was not only to live in the moment/not worry about looks, but more importantly to let his mind determine his life’s most significant experiences and memories. he argued that photographs distort our natural memory because we will remember those moments verses allowing our mind to tell us which experiences actually impacted us and rose to the top.

interesting, right? i thought so. clearly i’m in the memory-capturing camp, but i find validity in his point.

during our trip, every single minute of every single day was document worthy. the landscapes, hotel rooms, food, transportation, adventures, weird signs, gorgeous textiles, animals…  i’m glad that i read this quote before i left because many days each week, it helped me leave all the cameras behind. yes, all of them. i mean, it’s totally ridiculous: the DSLR for high-quality stills, don’t forget HD video footage, oh and there’s the GoPro for adventure snaps & video, iPhone square snaps for Instagram and plus I considered taking a Polaroid + film with me. TOO. MUCH.

without self-control, perfectly capturing our adventure could have consumed the entire trip and what a bummer that would have been.

both danny and i have pretty terrible memories, so photos are precious to me/us. i’m so glad we have our annual coffee table books to flip through and help us recall moments in time. however, in today’s world where people are staging life for a perfectly edited 2×2 square that’ll appear on someone else’s phone, are we capturing the real moments?

think about the shoebox of faded photos from our youth. parents snapped pictures that were for the family – nobody else. it didn’t matter if the house was clean, decorated to the latest style or if you had a cute outfit on. mom didn’t run to get lipstick before the photo was snapped (okay, maybe she did because well, women are women). but she surely didn’t get to take, proof & re-take 68 shots before deeming one sufficient. think about all those perfectly imperfect childhood photos we have because instant editing wasn’t an option.

my dad has always said that photos and videos are for the people who are in them. that a photo or video’s purpose is to evoke emotion in those individuals long after the moment has passed. with a glance to take them back to that moment in time. sure they’re nice to share, but in today’s world the sharing has become more important than the memory jogging.

we’re staging moments that may never naturally happen. we can make totally crap places look perfect with a little cropping & editing. we’re removing voices from home videos and replacing them with trendy songs. trust me, i’m guilty-as-charged for living in this modern social media world of selfies and hashtags, but i think it’s important to remember that not every photo needs to be pretty and some videos should be totally boring for a stranger to watch. let’s not be so focused on the share-worthy that we forget to capture the real stuff because i have a hunch those will be the snaps we love most in the future.

just some thoughts coming from someone who does struggle to balance it all.

alright, now the biggest point of them all: who wants to come along on our next big adventure be our personal memory capturer so i can just cruise on the back of the motorbike? what a dream that’d be. 

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