For me, photos are a snapshot of happiness and remind me of all the wonderful and beautiful things life has to offer. While enjoying another trip down the memory lane just before hitting 30, I felt the need to collect and structure this happiness. This idea turned into an extensive photo project where I digitized old photos, sorted newer ones, selected highlights from every year of my life, and gathered them into photo albums. As this project took quite some time to complete, I had plenty of time to reflect on why I take photos, how I approach photography and how it has changed over the years.
Looking back, the best photos tell stories and are imperfectly perfect.
While I have tons of cool and nice photos, my favorite ones are tied to special events, moments, and occasions in life. These photos are filled with emotions and have stories to tell. Sometimes they are posed, sometimes they just capture a moment as it was. Often these photos are not perfect, and it does not matter.
Yet, often I focus on getting that (perfect) photo instead of enjoying the moment.
In all honesty, quite often, I take out my camera before properly enjoying that moment because I want to ensure I do not forget to take a photo, and that I get a good shot. This means that I take photos before making up my mind whether that moment is worth capturing in the first place. And while I am focused on capturing that moment, I probably partly miss out on what is happening around me.
I realized that sometimes I take photos only to share with others.
Since moving to Belgium I have noticed that taking and sharing photos has become more important for me. Being away from family and many of my friends, photos allow me to easily, quickly, and conveniently share what I am doing and how my life is going. The downside is that there is a thin line between sharing and reporting. Sometimes it feels like I take photos not for myself but because I do not want to miss an opportunity to share them with others.
Moments that matter get buried in the clutter.
With a limited number of photos back in the day, each photo meant something, as we would consider why we took it, where we stood and why we wanted to remember it. Having opportunities to take unlimited amount of photos results not only in less thought through photos in general, but also a crazy amount of photos. Like this, the moments worth remembering get buried in the clutter. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in this digital clutter and would benefit from Marie Kondo coming to help me out.
Going forward, I want to approach taking photos a bit more like it used to be when we had a limited number of photos. I want to become better at resisting the temptation to take out my camera the moment I see something cool. I want to enjoy the moment first. I want my photos to be more thought through. I want to regularly sort and clean up my photo library to make sure the amount of photos stays manageable. And most importantly, I want to create something out of the photos that I take. Why go through all that work and effort if the photos are just left to gather digital dust?