The photo above was taken on a hike in English Camp on San Juan Island. My husband and I came around a bend in the trail and found ourselves face-to-face with a large doe. Now, most of us don't have close encounters with deer-- or any other wildlife for that matter-- on a regular basis, so these are the moments when you gasp in delight and stand in awe at being in such close physical proximity to one of these animals. That was my reaction for the first few seconds, after which I quickly reached for the camera around my neck, fumbled to turn it on, pointed it at the deer, waited for the focus to lock on... and then captured the lovely image you see above. Knowing I had taken an awful photo as the deer fled from the crazy camera lady, I attempted to lure the deer back into view by making kissy noises, but to no avail. The moment had passed.
Seeing this photograph again over a year later, I can't help but wonder-- would I have had a more profound and enjoyable experience had I simply stood there and watched the deer and been "in the moment" rather than persisting with an unsuccessful attempt to capture the moment on camera for posterity? Especially in the age of social media where we're documenting and sharing so much of our lives online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., there seems to be an increasing and urgent need for us to photograph, post, tweet, and share every experience we encounter. Would our memories be more vivid and enduring if we were to let a few social media post/tweet/sharing opportunities slide by and capture the moment in our minds rather than with a camera? This question was unequivocally answered when I found myself attempting to capture a stunning sunset just last week:
Take the challenge for yourself the next time you have to urge to photograph one of those rare and awesome moments. Turn the camera off, keep the phone in your pocket, and try to enjoy the scene before your eyes. I'm not suggesting that we should stop taking photos altogether, but every once in awhile, just let one moment go by undocumented, un-posted, and un-tweeted. Like me, you might even feel a little relief at allowing yourself to be in the moment rather than feeling obligated to capture it on camera to share with everyone else.