Today, everyone I know is a skilled photographer, mainly thanks to the numerous photo retouching programs out there. With this holiday period, it seems the world-perfect-photos multiply by the day.
Silly me, I thought people travel to wake up to new sunrises, to taste unfamiliar food, to practice their foreign language skills.
But it seems, more and more, we travel to take beautiful photos and bring them back home, as proud proof that our egotistical little self has, indeed, stepped on foreign lands.
We are so busy looking through the lens that we forget to observe… reality. Many tourists probably go back home, only to discover from the photos taken, that they’ve overpassed some remarkable scenery.
I’m not against photo taking. On the contrary, I am too playing with my camera perhaps more than necessary at times.
But I nostalgically recall the period when we had those cameras that would only take either 24 or 36 pictures. When we needed to calculate our frames left, so we can cover our entire 10-day holiday within one film strip. Surely we have just a handful of pictures from those times, but many more mental images, perhaps even more vivid than last year’s holiday. After all, what’s more important? Heaps of vanity-filled proofs of “I was there”, or the memories and emotional states of exclusive moments?
I see too many travelers walking the streets of Barcelona driven only by the urge to photograph everything that comes their way. They have a hurried walk, their sweating faces shaped by the wind, and their eyes, like eagles, looking for prey: another target to snap a picture of. Camera in one hand, constantly turned on. The capture is the utmost goal. They don’t stop to breathe the view, to taste it, to touch it, to turn it on all sides. After the capture has been made, proof safely stored on film, they venture further to find another photogenic prey.
Now really, how many shots of that 7 minute sunset could you take to be satisfied with the photo? The sunset is perfect every second just because with every second you get a different color palette. These moments are to be felt in the stomach, on your skin, are to be shared with the ones around you, not to be frozen in a bunch of pixels as an ostentatious proof for your friends back home.
I wonder, if we had no photo camera, no phone camera, no iPad, no video to take, how differently would we live our travels?!
Because, you know, not everything that happens on a holiday can be photographed. There is the texture of a silk shawl in a Turkish bazaar you cannot capture on film. The taste of that lemongrass jasmine rice dish in Thailand; the soothing smell of lavender, stretching on the fields of Provence; the chirping sound of those hummingbirds in the Amazon rainforest… No camera can capture all that, no matter how fine. We seem to be slaves of one sense, ignoring the other four.
At times, it seems that it only takes a spectacular act of nature to make people stop mid-way from taking a photo, index finger up in the air on its way down to the shutter button. Something like a furious ocean, with its deafening roar, smashing its wild waves against poor thousand-year-old rocks. Only such a natural wonder would have the ability to make people forget about their own vanity and Instagram accounts, and get them surprised, stirring up all of their 5 senses.
What’s your take on this? Do you think that we can actually enjoy our trips better by taking plenty of photos, and that they don’t prevent us from having a fully-experienced holiday?