Living in the Moment, or My Complicated Relationship with the Digital Camera

Just three short months ago, I got my first digital camera. The only reason I even have this camera is because my mother wanted me to record a presentation I was giving because for some reason she still thinks I do something important. I would still be without any kind of camera if it were not for this. I got the presentation and I made a few other recordings giving a tour around town to show her where I lived. However, I’ve found that I’ve mostly abandoned this camera to a purgatory known as the bottom of my purse.

While I enjoy capturing moments, I realized that while I had that camera out, I wasn’t really living in them. Everything looks a little different when you are looking at something through the lens, especially when capturing video rather than a still picture, rather than looking right at it with your own eyes. It didn’t take long for me to realize I would rather have that moment in my memory rather than record it knowing I will probably never watch it again. This is actually a startling revelation for me as I once had dreams of being behind a film camera, but then again that would be capturing a fixed moment and not something that I would miss as a one time event.

I still like to get still photographs every once in a while. When I had a film camera, I enjoyed taking photos of sunsets and other acts of nature as well as friends and family. Yet something about the digital camera I have now kind of kills the love I have for photography at times. (Yes, it even feels weird to call digital photos photography.) I’m sure if I can get a good sunset or other shot, I will definitely try to capture it and keep it to enjoy. But I miss having photos in my hand that I can arrange in a photo album and remember the moment I took the photo and why it holds a special moment to me.

And there have been moments I’ve missed and wish I had captured in a photo or video. I got to see a sitting president speak live last year, but I didn’t have a camera to record the event. I’m also glad to have had a camera to record community events I enjoyed, but I became acutely aware that I was looking through a lens with an obscured view and felt like I was missing something. The action actually felt further away from where I stood than it would have been had I looked directly at it.

Apparently, I just may eventually stop seeing the image through my camera lens as strange and distorted. I’m always late with technology, but I tend to get used to its presence and incorporate it into my life. But I know I’ll have to learn how to reconcile that with a desire to live in the moment and experience it as it is.