Living life through the viewfinder...some regrets

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by PeterToronto, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. PeterToronto

    PeterToronto TPF Noob!

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    Greetings guys


    Marco Cinnirella recently wrote a guest post on my website that I had to share with you. Marco is a Psychology Professor at a British University, and is also a keen amateur photographer. *He posts regularly on photography forums, and is a fan of Sony DSLRs, and the micro four thirds system. *I*hope that you enjoy his post as much as I did when I first read it...

    It dawned on me recently, not as a pro shooter, which I'm not, but as a very keen hobby photographer, that lately I have been living too much of my life behind the viewfinders of my cameras.

    I first noticed this problem towards the end of a wonderful vacation in the Canadian Rockies.* It suddenly hit me that while I was still stunned by the scenery, as seen through my SLR viewfinder, I was absolutely blown away by it when I took the camera away from my eye and just lived and breathed the awe inspiring views for myself through my own eyes. *I was bitterly disappointed that I had more or less only seen some of the glorious views through my 24mm lens.

    Most recently, I took a family vacation with my wife, three and one year old. *As usual, I had a couple of cameras, some lenses, and accessories with me. Very quickly I sank into the old habit of having the camera up to my eye virtually the whole time. *My poor wife was often left with both kids to look after as I wandered around looking for that elusive 'perfect shot' or new take on a seasoned postcard view. *How she put up with this for two weeks I don't know, but looking back it seems rather selfish of me.

    What concerns me most is that I am beginning to realize how I am in a way experiencing some key events in my family's life, and children's development, through the lens. Somehow it's not the same. *For example, my 3-year old saw the ocean for the first time ever 'in real life' on this recent trip. *My wife took him onto the shore and built sandcastles and paddled with him, while I minded the baby and snapped away at my wife and toddler. *While I got some nice images, I missed out on this special little event and it was gone forever. * I never heard my toddler's reaction when the cold ocean water lapped over his feet for the first time, nor did I see the look on his face when he completed his first sand castle. You get the picture.

    Back home, I realize that I'm no better. *I see my kids doing something really cute or new for the first time and my instant reflex reaction is to grab a camera (or camcorder).

    It's finally dawned on me that some of the most key (maybe mundane for some people but special for me) events in my life are slipping by, and I am only ever experiencing them through a lens. *While I love photography I now realize the balance here isn't right.* I need to live and experience some things first hand, even if that means the only image I have is that captured by my mind's eye rather than that of a CMOS chip.

    Peace
    Peter

    peter anthony PHOTOGRAPHY - Home
     
  2. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    This is pretty profound. You should post stuff like this more often. :thumbup:

    I know exactly what he means, and in many ways my own experiences over the years have been the same.

    Although you may be "missing the moment" now, you will have images that years from now will be very precious to you.

    Let me give you an example:

    If you were to not take pictures of these events, and just experience them and fully take in the moment you would forever carry the memories with you.

    But how well really can you remember a special moment? Not with the level of detail that a photo provides.

    I realized this when looking at my photos of the wife and I traveling Japan over the last 5+ years.

    I had almost totally forgotten many of the places we had been to. When I looked at the pictures it "sparked my memory" and it all came rushing back to me.

    Now this was just from the last 5 years remember. Imagine 30+ years from now what those images would mean to me.

    They would (and hopefully will be) among my most treasured possessions.

    They will provide a link to the past for me, and help me to remember experiences long forgotten.

    There is clearly a trade off to this, there’s no denying that.

    Again I know exactly what you mean, and this is something that many of us here probably are struggling with.

    I would think that it would be best to try and balance the two, taking pictures AND putting the camera down to live in the moment.

    You will be glad you took the pictures though, trust me on this one.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  3. Browncoat

    Browncoat No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    He brings up a very good point.

    This is why I don't like being "the camera guy" at family events. Typically I try to avoid getting my camera out at all. I would rather be there experiencing things with my kids than standing 10 ft away from it all trying to take photos.
     
  4. Idahophoto

    Idahophoto TPF Noob!

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    Very interesting. I don't see any problem though here. Okay, I do look through the viewfinder a lot more than some people, but it's who I am. I want to show people what I saw and I want to freeze the moment. Now, I'm not knocking anyone who would rather just stare at a sunset rather than photograph it, but if I liked it I would want to. I have found many events I wanted to do but would be unable to photography for one reason or another, my decision was simply not to go at all. I love photography! And photographing something I like is my way of enjoying it even more and getting the most from that experience. Just my two cents.
     
  5. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    I went through a very similar experience in the early 1980s; I sold all my equipment and wanted nothing more to do with photography. I bought back much my gear starting in the late 80s, and take photos when I feel like it, but I no longer call myself a 'photographer'.
     
  6. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    Ya I don't think there is anything wrong with "looking at life through the viewfinder".

    Like Idaho said, that’s just who some people are. I am one of them.

    Now if it's interfering with your life, like the example of the wife and children, then that’s possibly a problem.

    This could be anything taking your attention away though, like an iphone for example, it isn’t really anything specific to a camera.

    If you are unable to balance taking pictures and taking care of your family, you got some bigger issues to deal with.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think its very easy for a hobby (esp one like photography) to take a person over - for our desire to photograph to get in the way of our abilty to enjoy a moment for the moments sake alone.

    Of course some do what Petraio did and suddenly flee away from the "control" of the camera. To give up either in a counter reaction or to become so overwhelemed with photography that it loses all fun and the hobby slips away.
    Either way Petraio shows that selling the gearis really not the best way to solve this (unless you are financialy forced to) since you end up getting part of that hunger back again and repurchasing is always more expensive.

    I think that most people can achive a happy medium between the two - both between living within moments and recording moments and its up to the individual to choose how much of each they are willing to have. Extreme viewpoints are present but tend to be very polarized and blinkered and often end up either swinging totally the other way in time or shifting closer to the middle ground.


    Myself I often try to judge before I shoot if I can actually get a good shot - if not I might just see with my own eyes or with binoculars - to enjoy the sight without ISO, aperture, focus and "Where the Heck the bird fly"filling my head.
     
  8. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You should only put an image on the wall that you meant to put there. You don't really capture an image so much as an emotion brought on by a vision.

    There is nothing wrong with shooting snaps to enhance your memories or those of your family but when your ego intercedes and you try and make your vision intrude on your memories you have found the time to set aside your camera.

    I do not mean that you shouldn't shoot an image that deeply moves you, but if you find that you spend too much time being deeply moved you'll be disturbed at being interrupted and if you spend too much time being disturbed then you are disturbed and will wind up having a meltdown on a photo forum, and that's not a good thing.

    You might even wind up seriously debating which is the better camera or whether a lens mount is wide enough.

    Then you go on meds and have to sell your gear to pay for the meds and the doctors and on and on so lighten up, eh? :lol:
     
  9. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    I hope you don't know this from personal experience lol. :mrgreen:
     
  10. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    LOLOLOLOLOLOL

    Just trudge through the latest Canon vs Nikon and the Nikon can't make some kind of lens or other threads. ;)
     
  11. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    Ya I know lol.

    You got to admit that these discussions can be good food for though.

    The Nikon vs. Canon threads can actually help people to decide which system is best for them.

    There needs to be some focus and direction to the thread though, or it will get out of control pretty quick.
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, a very keen observation. When my son was born, I began a web gallery called Spencer Day By Day...I spent about a year photographing his newness and his tiny-ness...I even began referring to him as "his Royal Tiny-ness"...every day I had to have a shot to upload, something interesting,hopefully...after a while, I realized it was more important to experience some events, some "firsts" without the camera as a critical thing...to just trip off a snapshot or two,and then STOP shooting.

    Like the seashore moment...it is possible to snap a frame or two, and then just sling the camera over your shoulder...you will have captured the moment, AND then experienced it,without the camera interfering for 15-20 minutes. Try that..shoot 1,2,3,4 frames, then STOP! And enjoy life!
     

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