As someone who uses video cameras for a living, it can be difficult for me to occasionally put the camera down when traveling — to stop and smell the roses, if you will. Seeing the world through that tiny lens separates you from the experiences you’ve traveled to enjoy. When that happens, your memories will only be what you see in the pictures. You won’t have a story to tell.
A few years ago, I shot a documentary about the Elders of the Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota. The place and the people were stark, beautiful, and destitute. There was so much to learn, so much to see, and so much to experience. So, while everyone I talked to who had been a part of the program we were working with had proclaimed that they had experienced a spiritual awakening to one degree or another, I was so entrenched in my viewfinder and getting the perfect shot that I didn’t truly experience anything. It wasn’t until six months later, as I was piecing the film together, that I realized what I had experienced and who I had met. It took me six months to create the memories. And of course, by that time, they had faded. Don’t let your lens block your vision.
It’s easy to get lost in what you’re shooting. We all love a pretty picture, and we think that by snapping a shot of that beautiful sunset or getting footage of that gorgeous waterfall, we’ll be able to enjoy the feeling of being there long after we get back home. Yet when we do return, and the bags are unpacked, and the family is plopped down in front of the TV, something’s different. That sunset seems flat and not so brilliant. The waterfall is dull and somehow less mighty. We forgot that the camera only gives us a two dimensional representation of our experiences. The magic gets lost in translation. So take a few moments, put the camera away, and let the magic of your journey truly sink in.