Earlier this week, I was in my car whilst stopped in traffic and to the left of me there was a cafe. As I peered in through the window, I could see a little boy in the shop with his mum. She was doing what we all do, attempting to take a photo of him looking cute on a chair with a babyccino in hand.
I could tell he was not playing ball, not looking at the camera, despite the desperate attempts of his mummy waving one hand at him and her smartphone poised in the other ready for that perfect photo to be captured and undoubtedly shared on social media platforms for friends and family to show everyone how grown up he is getting.
I’m not passing judgement, I can’t. I know that I am guilty of the exact same thing. But it got me to thinking, how much time am I thinking about getting that all important cutesy photograph and how much time am I actually just enjoying the moment?
Growing up, obviously we didn’t even have mobile phones, let alone smartphones, and cameras were used for special occasions only. There was no option to preview the photo or delete the dodgy ones, and we had to wait a day or so for them to be developed at the shop before collecting them. Of those photos in the packet that were developed usually a good 10% didn’t come out right, 10% were out of focus and about 50% someone wasn’t looking the right way or blinked at the crucial moment. The remaining 30% were deemed good enough for a photo album and that was that.
I take so many photos, hundreds in a week. That is the beautiful thing about todays technology. You can snap away and film away to your heart’s content without thinking about it, but at what cost?
Are my children bothered about the fact that I’ve managed to take the most wonderful photograph of them sitting together nicely with perfect smiles on their faces? Or on their scooters in a perfect pose, with my dog sitting beautifully the middle of them. Of course not, they don’t care. They want to live for the moment, not for the photograph. They don’t want a camera in their faces for every waking moment of their life.
Equally it is me who is missing out on moments as they happen. Because I’m fiddling around with my phone I am missing out on seeing things through my own eyes, watching my girl playing with her dolls, or dancing in the lounge, or watching my boy build something awesome out of Lego or
not learning to ride his bike. Or even not just watching, actually joining in.
My life has not been ruined because there are not 3,000 photographs stored on a memory card of me back in 1993. The memories I have of that time in my life are stored in my head and in a couple of dusty old albums that relatives have stored away in their cupboards or garages that I have no desire to look at myself.
So the next time we go out, or there is a moment which purely just makes me smile, maybe I will put the camera down and stop worrying about when the next good photo opportunity is going to come along, make memories in my head, and just enjoy the moment.