Every once and a while I find myself taking hundreds of photos at a time on my phone. Quantity over quality is my motto, because the more I take the more I feel that one of them has to be perfect. But this habit is not only bad for my phone storage, it also breeds a negative self-image. After a trip over the weekend, I learned how to capture the moment while staying present in it.
We’ve all heard of selfie culture, and how social media can be negative for self-esteem and can create an impossible-to-achieve self-image. I certainly know that looking for the “perfect” photo out of hundreds of options can breed a more critical view of yourself. But constant photography can also take you out of the moment, something I recently discovered on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
I was on an unexpected day trip to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, where they very cleverly sell cameras outside the Ansel Adams photography exhibit, as if to say if you buy our merchandise you might one day end up here. Of course I bought one.
After I bought the camera, we continued walking around the museum and into Boston. Instead of being on my phone, taking hundreds of photos in search of the perfect way to capture each moment as it passed, I only had 36 shots. And, since film is ridiculously expensive to develop for a college student watching her wallet, I had to use them wisely.
With that in mind, I didn’t waste my photographs on pictures of the meals I ate, nor did I take 100 identical pictures of the sunset (a crime we’ve all been guilty of at some point). Instead, having a camera with limited memory forced me to figure out the moments of the day that really mattered.
And these moments weren’t pictures of me. I found myself taking pictures of my friends in coffee shops, bookstores and photos where the light from the traffic light made my friend’s hair spark red. I found myself taking pictures that represented the day, not the outfit I picked out that morning.
To put it simply: my photography was far less narcissistic.
I knew I only had a few photos, and I knew that looking back on the day, I would want to see what my friends looked like, our adventures through the different exhibits in the MFA, and the weird big clock tower we passed on the way to an ice-cream shop. I knew that looking back, I wouldn’t really care about the most “Instagram-worthy” shot.
Photography has always been used to capture moments, but with evolving technology, your phone can let you capture every single moment of your life. Not only does no one really care to see that, constantly recording your life can drag you away from it.
That’s why Polaroid and disposable cameras have become so popular again. Sure, the instant gratification of seeing your photos in print definitely makes Polaroid cameras more attractive. But for those without the will to stop taking hundreds of photos of the sunset, disposable cameras offer a great way to capture the moment without leaving it.0
Also published on Medium.