That’s right. That tool that you use to capture all those amazing moments with family, friends, and at special events. Put it down, look around, and enjoy the moments thoroughly, with everyone present.
I know it sounds weird as I am usually always seen with a camera with me, but listen up.
While capturing those moments to relive over and over is pretty amazing, what is more, amazing is the personal experience everyone has around you.
Having a camera in hand, you’re always looking for the perfect shot, the moment that will describe what is going on at that moment, and all the people there. However, you will not be at that moment.
That loved one that is wanting you to be present is disappointed that you are focused on trying to make everything perfect. Nothing is perfect. That layout of your breakfast plate and coffee and posing in a primp manner on the furniture? Do you do that every day? I doubt it. What is perfect is those giggles while having your morning cup with your family, chasing each other through the park, and in our case, massive Nerf wars in the house. I will never be able to capture those to look “perfect” with my camera. Why? Because I am learning that sometimes you need to put the camera down to enjoy what is going on around you thoroughly.
I recently went on a quick (and very unplanned) vacation to Orlando with my husband and daughter. The husband had a work conference there, our schedules matched up, and I was able to convince my work that they would be completely fine without me.
We surprised my daughter with a letter from Hogwarts and robes from her house; she’s a Ravenclaw, two days later we boarded a place at 5 am and headed off to sunny Florida!
While packing for the trip, I came across a conundrum. Heading to a new place, full of awesome things to see and lots of memories to be made. Do I bring my camera gear or leave it at home and use my phone.
I ended up leaving my gear and here’s why.
With a day job and a crazy busy photography business, it’s hard to spend quality time with my daughter. We get in a day here or there a week, lots of evenings hanging out, but not full days of just us.
While I would have loved to photograph all the amazing things we saw, characters we encountered, and fun we had with my DSLR and gear, I wanted to be entirely concentrated on my daughter.
I did use my phone to get a few of the images, and by her request, some selfies. We don’t have too many photos together (since I’m usually the one snapping them), so I thought that it was the perfect opportunity.
Not bringing my bag of gear to maneuver the parks also let us get around so fast. We rarely stopped from hopping a ride to ride. When we did, we enjoyed a delicious butterbeer or had lunch inside of Belle’s castle.
Every night I got to hear my daughter say “Best. Day. Ever” as she fell asleep in record time.
We go on vacations in the National Parks every year, and I always bring my gear. Lately, I’ve been only shooting when they want to, and in spots they enjoy. I’ve drug them up to the top of Crater Lake where it was cold in the middle of August, on top of Glacier Point in Yosemite, and the shoreline of Jackson Lake to stargaze. Some with complaints, some with jaw-dropping awe at the amazing things we see.
This vacation wasn’t about that; it was about fully experiencing how great my soon to be ten year old is. She decided what things to see, what rides to go on, and where to grab some food. I was just there to guide and provide the debit card to do those things.
On our last day there, my husband was able to sneak away from the conference and join us at Universal for a few hours. Luckily, we already knew the park and which rides get the most massive line first!
We spent the plane ride talking about what fun we had and how this was the BEST birthday surprise ever. I am so glad that I got to be fully present with her this last week and enjoy the fantastic woman she’s growing up to be.
So put down those cameras, stop trying to make the perfect scene out of your tableware, and fully enjoy the people and places around you. You’ll remember it, and so will they.