Put the Camera Down

Pictures.  I've always been a picture person.  Come to think of it, it's a wonder I didn't invent Instagram, myself!  I was the friend who used to always bring along a disposable camera (remember those?), and then a digital camera (my Canon is my favorite), and now still often insists on bringing a real camera even though our phones take fantastic photos.

I'm the one who shouts "Smile!!" to capture a fun moment.  I snap candids, too.  I photograph, share, scrapbook, and reminisce.   I believe photos are an important tool to hold on to and re-live happy memories.

So why am I daring you to put the camera down?  

Truthfully, I could just as easily tell you to TAKE PICTURES, and maybe someday I will. But for now, this is a dare I have personally been working on this past year.

Last summer, one of my best friends got married.  It was the most beautiful ceremony, followed by the most fun reception.  As a bridesmaid, I was occupied throughout the day and, of course, during the ceremony, so simply couldn't be snapping too many pictures.  Then, during the reception, my instinct jumped in and told me "Go get your camera!  Look how great this is!  Capture it, capture it!"  I ignored it for a while, because I only wanted to be on the dance floor.

Then, when I stepped out for water, I grabbed my camera from my purse before returning to the dance floor. Sure, I'll snap a few fun pics.

Pictures, I got, but I was quickly weary of holding the camera.  I'd had so much fun before picking it up, and now it was a burden. It was small, but I wanted my hands free to wave, shake, and hold others'.  Holding the camera and taking photos would have been nice for the future, but I could tell it would rob me of fully immersing myself in the experience happening here and now.

So I put the camera down.

It sounds small, but any camera-holics like myself will understand how difficult this simple action can be.  I often feel personally responsible for documenting my friends' and family's experiences, so I told myself, "There are professional photographers here. They will do a better job than I ever could. Leave your camera behind and have a ball!"

It was liberating!

Since then, I've made a conscious effort to leave my camera in my bag for the majority of the events I attend.  Celebrating a birthday with friends?  Take a few snaps of the candle-blow, and that'll do.  Attending a concert?  Taking a few great shots is fun, but do I really need one hundred photos of the same stage?  I'm learning to home in on a select few moments that really matter to best capture the memories of the night.  

Now, I'm daring myself and you to put the camera down.  

It's taken a while, but I've become better at knowing when enough is enough.  For example, when I go to a concert, I used to snap photos all night long.  Now, I take one or two in the beginning, and that's it!  I only take out my camera again if there's a particularly cool set design or something.  The photos all end up looking similar anyway, and the same is true of many social events!  Just take what you need and find satisfaction in that.  When, later on--in a week, a month, or six years--you find the photos to review, it'll be enough to recall the experience.

[ Note: This dare does not apply to travel, babies, or puppies.  Never enough photos of babies or puppies. ] 

Do you have fun plans for Christmas, for New Year's Eve?  Great!  Bring a camera, by all means, but don't let it be glued to your hand.  It's great to have your phone to check messages or snap a shot or two for Instagram, but then put it away.  Remain present and enjoy the presence of others.

No need to record every second of the day; just get a few shots to help you savor the memories later, but be sure you create real memories to savor.

Now go out, celebrate and have happy holidays! 

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