Are we becoming so concerned about posting our lives on Facebook that we forget to live our lives in the here-and-now? Think of a time when you took a trip holding a camera in your hand and then think of when you did the same without the camera. The experience is different. We have a different attachment to our present when we are not concerned with documenting – Nathan Jurgenson
The only times I really take pictures are when friends ask me to. Even then, I cringe and click as reluctantly as I can. Just so they get the hint.
I am wary of this compulsion to document. Holidays, vacations, travels spent posing and photographing rather than…experiencing. My memories aren’t going to evaporate. I will remember everything I’ve seen that is beautiful and ugly and memorable because I’ve lived it. Because I’ve watched it unfold with my eyes rather than through my camera lens.
I admit, I have a few Facebook albums dedicated to holidays. Those are the exceptions not the rule. It is usually when I’m the only (unfortunate) sucker present with a good camera. More often than not, these have not made the list of my favourite travels. Because I have been too busy clicking to let the feeling of travel wash over me. I’d rather tuck bus tickets, train passes and bar receipts from my travels between the pages of books to surprise me and reminisce over on a rainy day, than spend valuable time clicking.
That aside the best kind of memories can’t be committed to film.
I could have taken pictures of one of my best friends – Mrs. R’s – wedding. And I did. But at the moments she was actually wed, my camera was in my bag. My eyes were on her striking face. The one I’d grown to love so in the past six years. I cried because I’d never felt closer or more far away from her. That moment she became a wife while still being my Mrs R – That was the exact moment of her wedding I wanted to hold close and it couldn’t be photographed. I don’t need a piece of glossy paper to remember.
I could have taken pictures of the last holiday the S.O and I took, to Liverpool. And I did. Of everything The Beatles – and that was primarily to show our fathers. What I really remember was holding his hand as we went aboard the ferry; the first time either of us had used that mode of transportation. I remember the lacy gray waves splashing and curling, the cold wind thrashing against our ears. The rhythm of water and wind, too beautiful and fearsome to be documented via snapshot. Again, it didn’t need to be. We will always remember.
I suppose the SS and I could have documented our “Bangkok Baybeh!” travels. To be fair, she did. I didn’t. I remember what’s important though; our last night in Bangkok. The one time I got her to leave her camera behind. The night we sat at the outdoor bar, drank Tiger beer after Tiger beer, smoked cigarette after cigarette, and just…talked. In that effortless wonderful way you can talk to only with your best friend. Where you manage to be witty and profound and hilariously funny in a way you can only be when you’re together. When I look at her photo album, I remember tiger cubs, spicy soup and weekend markets. Her album doesn’t include that night. It doesn’t need to. We both remember it.
The week before I left Bombay, as well as the week before I left London, I walked. Alone. To all my favourite spots, to all the places my blood gets a little warmer, and my heart exapnds in “hello you“. I didn’t take my camera with me and I didn’t use my phone. It was my last week in my city and I didn’t want to document.
I wanted to see.