Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I took a Photo, but I wasn't there!!

I fancy myself as being a decent photographer. Not a pro, I
don't make money at it, but I try to have semi-creative ideas,
and I have fun with it.

Naturally, my first inclination when I see something cool, or
visit an interesting place is to take pictures of it. It helps
me to remember the thing or place, the same reason anyone
takes pictures.

But I have come to the conclusion recently that in some
circumstances, the exact opposite may be true. And with this
realization, I have decided that sometimes, I would be better
off NOT taking photos of some things. Let me 'splain, Lucy.

My bride and I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and over the
years we have often passed right through Austin on our journeys
to San Antonio and Houston. But we have never actually stopped
there, which is a shame, because first of all, that is where our
State Capitol is, and second, I have always heard that it is a
pretty nice town.

So last summer, while heading south to drop off The Daughter in
Kerrville for summer camp, we decided to at least stop overnight
in Austin. We stayed at a Doubletree overlooking the Capitol,
and what I had heard was correct. It was a very nice city, and
we enjoyed our stay.

So, me being the amateur photographer that I am, the first thing
I had to do was go out and take photos. Since we didn't have
very much time (and that is the problem, as we will see shortly)
I went out with my tripod so I could take multiple panning shots
and 'stitch' them together into a single panorama:

This whole process is quite time-consuming, especially when you
are moving about from place to place to get different

I also went inside the Capitol building to take
some shots. All in all, I was quite happy with the results, and
I had a good time.

However, by the time I was finished, it was quite late in the
day, so I met my bride at the bar and had a few beers. It was a
pretty warm day (June) and I felt good. I had accomplished
something, and was now enjoying a few cold ones.

Then it was evening, and the next morning we left to continue
our journey. And while we were in the car heading out into the
country, my bride and The Daughter began talking together about
how cool the Capitol was, and did you see that? Did you notice this?

And...I suddenly got a feeling of deep sadness...I had been
so busy monkeying around with my camera, that I had MISSED
seeing the Capitol! I got some good pictures, I had fun, but I was
so intensely focused on the mechanical details, that I had not had
time to just stop and look around.

Even when I look at my photos, I can admit they turned out OK,
but dammit! It's like I wasn't even there! I hardly remember
anything about it except trudging around in the hot sun,
carrying my stuff from place to place, waiting for people to
move out of my shot.

So here is what I have learned...the next time I go somewhere I
have never been, unless I know I am allotted at least a few days
there, I am NOT going to take my camera. Maybe take a small one
and blast off a few shots, yeah, that is fine. But for me to
make a big production out of it, NO! I have learned!

See, the interesting thing is, about a billion other people have
taken photos of the Capitol, or the Grand Canyon, or the
Tetons...people who are professionals, and whose photos most
likely look a bit better than mine anyway. If I want to see a
picture of the anything, that work has already been done.

So I still enjoy taking short photo expeditions in my little
town of Grapevine. We have a nice historic downtown, with an
old weathered mill, and a train station with a real steam
engine and a cool turntable for the locomotives...things that
are a bit unique to us, and I can enjoy taking pictures of
them. But since I live here as well, I can afford to spend a
day behind the camera.

But here's the deal...when I take my trip to the Holy Land or
Egypt some day, I am not going to even bring a camera!
Because THAT will be a trip I intend to savor in my real memories!

Peace be with you.


  1. Wow that is tragic. But you should always have a camera along, take pictures, just step in front of them. A million pictures have been taken in front of the pyramids, but with you in it?

    Besides, annoying neighbors and family with pictures of places you've been to is one of the true joys in life.

  2. That's too bad...but at least, you realized that you better not take your camera along with you BEFORE going to Egypt..right? ;)

    And I think your pics turned out great!

  3. Hey Joe - Maybe just find a balance between enjoying the sights and getting a few shots for memories! I think you did a great job - and I'm happy to find your site. I like what you write!
    Have a happy day :-)

  4. I would hate it if I went to Egypt and didn't have at least one picture of me and the pyramid. I guess the trick is to find other people to take the picture with you in it. :)

  5. Ya, you all are right. If I go somewhere cool I will have a few snaps taken, but I am not going to spend all my time trying to do anything fancy that takes up too much time.

  6. Every time I ask someone to take my picture with my camera, I always think of that scene from NL's European Vacation and think they are going to run off with the camera. As I am posing for the picture, I am always ready to run and tackle them if they take off. That's the reason I am not in a lot of pictures when I travel.

  7. Wanna bet? I'll bet you can't resist to take your camera. And I think you should because I like seeing the pics since I can't go there myself, so keep snappin.

  8. Yes, but I will be very conservative, unless I have LOTS of time!