on taking less photos

For some reason I haven’t been taking as many photos of late. I think pregnancy has a lot to do with it (I’m using pregnancy as an excuse for many things – foul moods, inability to form a coherent sentence, sudden and energetic cleaning outbursts) but mostly, I think I’m beginning to realise – really comprehend – how fast time is travelling. I’m almost in my third trimester, Christmas is a few weeks away, Che is about to finish Year 1 – where have all those days gone to?

I’m a big advocate for documenting moments and capturing memories. Like most people, my photos are among my most valuable possessions; I would be devastated if anything ever happened to my hard drives (Daniel has taken precautions and has copied our photos onto CDs that are kept at our parents’ houses). Over the past few years I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos. It’s how I developed my knowledge of manual photography, honed my skills and stepped into the world of professional photography. In fact, I highly recommend you take hundreds of thousands of photos if you want to become a better photographer; it’s the best way to learn.

That said, lately I have been enjoying the opportunity to experience a moment instead of documenting it. Whilst I can look back at photos, remember the conversation and savour the memory, it’s not the same as actually being there; completely, wholeheartedly present. Some say that taking photos helps you to be in the moment – the quiet observer – but there’s still a camera between you and everyone else. Regardless of how compact that camera may be, there’s no denying that it’s in the way.

And then, if you’re striving for artistic perfection, your desire to control the situation is a blockage, too. I’m speaking from experience – looking at the light, assessing my angle and composing the image and subsequently, adding a slew of unnecessary emotions to the situation. Taking photos takes energy and I’m starting to realise that that energy would be best spent on talking, drawing, splashing…just being.

I’ll never stop taking photos of my days; it’s something I enjoy doing and I always, without doubt, cherish the final result. But I’m consciously taking less because I don’t want to look back at photo albums and wish I was the one painting with Poet instead of taking photos above her head. I don’t want to be consumed by creative desire and subsequently regret missed opportunities. I want to be fully present with my young, beautiful, energetic children – here and now.

There’s a fine line between engaging in life and documenting it. What do you choose?

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Showing 17 comments
  • Jane S

    I agree Jodi…I struggle with this too at times. Not that I am a professional, of course. Wise words as usual x

  • Craftysquirrel

    I swing from one extreme to another – have hardly had my camera out lately , other times I feel as if I am always behind it – it is hard to find a balance between the two.

  • Jelena Vukovic Marin

    I just love taking photos, but in reality, I decided to actively engage in my life and rarely document it.
    Even if the moment is "picture perfect" I don't grab my phone to document it, because some are just to good…
    to waste a second for it.

  • Lila Wolff

    The camera is an extension of me, as someone who struggles to concentrate and form memories I find that having the camera has the opposite effect for me, rather than removing me from the situation it draws me closer to. I don't tend to chase the perfect angle though, yes if I see it or beautiful light then I go for it, but the moment is my primary focus. But like many things it really is different for all of us.

  • jody

    I hear you Jodi, I have been engaging instead of documenting more of late too. xx

  • Aimee

    I think for me it comes and goes. A sort of ebb and flow rhythm. I can take pictures almost daily for months. Then get tired of feeling like I'm stalking each moment, camera in hand. Spectating not participating.
    So the backlash is that I then carry nothing more than an iPhone and record mostly in my memory, but get stuck in and engage in those moments. Currently we are ebbing, even a 4th birthday yielded few pictures. Enough for a small contribution to the album but nothing more than that. The majority just saved in my memory.

  • Mother Down Under

    I am far from a photographer but I generally only take my camera out one day a week…and I will practice and take hundreds of photos on that one day.
    The other days, I tuck it away and focus on just enjoying the day.

  • Audrey

    I hardly take any photos anymore – I really strive to remember so I'll have something to show the kidlets when they are older. Teddy loves looking at photos, he is convinced him as a baby is actually his little sister! I realised that I have much more fun engaging with the moment, & now Daddy is home permanently documentation has fallen to the bottom of the 'to do' list!

  • Malinda Brown

    I struggle and walk a fine line between documenting everything and being in the moment. So hard but I can't help but get behind the camera. I enjoy it.

  • Carie

    I think I walk the line! And sometimes the balance gets out of kilter and I have to consciously put it right but mostly I think we're OK. I think the biggest help sometimes is the good old British weather – on the days when it's too dark and cloudy to do without the overhead light I don't take as many photos because the controlling photographer part of me doesn't like the lack of natural light!

  • Hollands Reverie

    I'm with you wholeheartedly! I find when I go to document- I'm shifting and morning them, instructing them and while I will have the picture, it interrupted. Sometimes it's easy and worth it, but I find especially on big occasion, I don't document. My daughter just had her birthday and I took six photos- and it was perfect. It captured the day, but I got to be present and involved!

  • Bungalowgirl

    I'm doing the exact same thing. I was so busy running the six year old gymnastics party that there are hardly any photos and they are far from " artistic perfection" and that is ok. On the flip side though, last week a crazy storm hit Brisbane and my son's school was severely damaged- 1000 smashed windows and glass through every room. Due to the hazards of such a situation, over the weekend the classes were stripped and all the children's possessions were thrown out. When my son discovered that his chair bag ( that I had lovingly sewn at the end of prep) had been thrown out, he burst into tears in class ( he is nearly 9). When I remembered that there is a photo of that chair bag on my blog back three years ago and told him, it lessened the sting just a little. mel x

  • Lisa Stirling

    Im totally crazy busy with 3 kids, but I am making the time to learn my dslr and snap shots most days..

  • Zena

    I find if I stop and run to grab the camera I miss the moment anyway so it's better off being in the moment but that being said I do want to join your 52 project next year. I hardly take any photos of my second little one aged 2 this Christmas. It always seems to be about my 7 year old.

  • Jessica Rebelo

    This is completely spot on and something so personally can relate to. I had exactly the same realisation when I got pregnant with my second child (due next February), for some reason I stopped almost completely to take pictures of our everyday as I use to but instead to be fully present without the pressure to capture the perfect moment. Maybe I didn't want to miss anything knowing our lives will change forever with a second child, and so wanted to consciously spend more time with my only (for now) child. I do use IG though, but not even my sons bday this weekend I took my camera to try to capture a moving toddler but I joined the party and danced barefoot with him! That's a great feeling, but please don't stop capturing and showing your images that are such an inspiration! Xx

  • Lissa Snapp

    I couldn't agree more Jodi! In our world today are all so attached to our electronic devices and capturing everything thought the day that we forget to breathe, take in the moment and interact with whats in front of us. We are in a weird time in our lives with the tech world. I often struggle with leaving the camera and phone behind but when I make that conscious decision to I feel so much better on a outing. I have a handful of photos from when I was a child. I cherish them but there is just a stack of 10 all a bit grainy from the film camera but so great. More is not always better and in digital photography I think it is something we all need to remember. I look at my photo library on my computer and get totally stressed. I hope someday soon I can make prints of them and file them away in some tangible form. I love this post and the reminder to leave the camera at home! Thanks as always for your well thought and put together posts!

    Warmly, Lissa

  • tales from a bungalow

    I wholeheartedly agree. I often decide to have a day off from the camera and be completely present. I often think ' ooh this would be a perfect photo, I with i could capture this moment.' But then I remember that being fully with my family is far more important. x

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