I’ve pretty much had a camera attached to my hip for as long as I can remember. It’s always been a part of my life; I’ve always relished the opportunity to learn more about photography from anyone and everyone I could. Last summer I even traveled to London with National Geographic for the sole purpose of spending two weeks immersing myself in photography. Basically, you could say that I spend a lot of time with my camera in hand.
Yet here I am, at the end of a week with my very last Overland group (which I’ll touch on more in another later blog post) having not taken a single photograph. And it almost feels good.
This was not my original intention—I did bring a camera to this trip…without a memory card nestled safely inside. Upon realizing this on the first day, I debated whether or not I should try to find one. After all, I’m sure it would have been possible, but part of me wanted to try to not take a single picture for a week. You could call it a kind of social experiment. Except, you know, without the social part.
Or so I thought.
Usually when I’m behind the camera, I unintentionally assume the role of “the photographer” and no longer simply just a part of the group. Take my recent trip to Spain, for example—though I took some stunning shots that I do love, I’m in a grand total of one group picture…awesome?
I found that not being behind the camera on this trip, I was able to fully immerse myself in not only the group activities, but life as well.
Much of what we did on this trip (when we weren’t hard at work on our essays) was exploration—the area around Williams College is absolutely filled with various hiking trails and natural springs (for which my waterproof camera would have been quite helpful!). But many of these natural springs weren’t just in the middle of some very easily accessible destination—they required a bit of time and effort and a lot of crawling over rocks on hands and knees, something I wouldn’t have been able to have done with a camera in hand. I would have been so focused on getting my camera there in one piece so I could take the perfect picture that I no longer would have been able to enjoy getting myself there in one piece.
The first few days, I will admit, were rough. Being surrounded by the beauty of the Berkshires and unable to capture it for future remembrance was difficult at the beginning of the trip. I truly have good intentions for my photography—I want to remember these places in the future, when they may no longer look the same as they did my first time visiting. I try not to use photography as a crutch or an escape to get out of group activities…though I have definitely done it on more than one occasion (read: group sports games).
But as the week went on, I began to cherish more and more my feeling of being unbridled, not only literally—by not having to constantly hold onto a camera—but also mentally—by not always feeling pressured to take the “perfect” picture to remember the moment.
Instead, I could just remember it.