Do you travel because you’re curious, want to explore other places, enjoy a break from work or uni, feel inspired or broaden your horizon?
Or do you travel to take photos?
Something is totally wrong here. There are people who even choose their travel destinations based on the question if they offer any “instagram-worthy places”. But what’s the point of travelling and seeing different places, if we restrict ourselves to the beautiful and picturesque aka instagram-worthy parts and leave out all the rest?
I’m not saying that I don’t consider this at all. Of course I sometimes take pictures that I intend to post on Instagram. But I don’t go to all these new places for photos, but to enjoy myself. I choose my destinations based on my interest and curiosity to explore, without considering whether it’d make for good photos or not. And I take hundreds of pictures. With the difference being that I take them for myself, my own memories and not social media. And if I decide I’d like to post one because it turned out great, I do it. But while looking through the lens and taking the photo, I don’t even think once about social media. I take them because I like what I see and want to capture the moment so that I can look back on it when scrolling through my photos in a few months or years’ time.
Why not see those places through your own eyes rather than your camera lens?
I love taking pictures and videos of my travels, so that I can always look back at them. But I also love those moments, in which I just stop feeling the urge to take a photo and just cherish them without my camera. It took me a while, but I realised that those moments where I chose not to photograph are definitely not gone and will never be gone. I used to be scared of forgetting moments, or forgetting how something I was so fascinated with looked like. But that’s not the case. More often than not, I can not only remember what I saw, but also how I felt, how it smelled and what was happening around that place. It’s all in my head.
Something else I realised is that a camera doesn’t always depict how something looks in reality to your eye. A camera often manages to come really close to that, but sometimes it just doesn’t work and it’s good to learn how to just let it go and accept that your eyes are the only ones who can see something the way it really looks. I have an example from my Japan travels. I and my boyfriend were hoping to see Mt. Fuji from the plane before landing in Tokyo. We kept looking out the window but couldn’t see anything. Eventually, we got off the plane, without having seen it. On the flight back home, however, once we took off, we spotted something quite far away that looked like Mt. Fuji. And it was. So I grabbed my phone and just kept taking dozens of pictures before I decided to stop and to let it go. I realised that the mountain looked so much bigger, nearer, clearer and more beautiful to me in real life than it does on my pictures. On these photos, it ended up looking like a little dot and when I showed it to my sister back home, she told me she can’t see anything on there. But at least the view is captured in my mind and if I want to, I can think back and see it in front of me, the way I did from the plane. We don’t always need photos to remember.
“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
It seems as if we’re living in a “pictures or it didn’t happen” mentality. Why do people feel the constant need to prove social media where they’ve been and how amazing it was? Photographs used to be something to cherish, not tools for social media accounts. I take pictures for myself – that’s why many of them can’t always be considered amazing shots. In Japan, I took more than a thousand pictures and ended up sharing maybe 30 of them on Facebook and Instagram altogether. Some of them are good shots, some rather mediocre. And I really couldn’t care less. I think it’s because I treat my social media accounts (including my blog) as my diary. I post whatever I would love looking back on when scrolling through my accounts. You might wonder now why I take so many pictures if I don’t share most of them? Maybe because I often feel like a different person when I travel. Not totally different, but I spot a few character traits while travelling, that I just don’t have when I’m home. Truth be told, if you saw what I’m up to when I’m home, you’d get bored. I don’t go out too often and compared to my friends, I prefer staying at home and writing blog posts, studying, reading or binge-watching a series or political debates than going out at night.
But when I go travelling, I develop a thirst for adventure, I suddenly start liking spontaneity, I’m more open to trying out things I wouldn’t at home, and I stop being worried about being myself outside because let’s face it: no one knows you or will ever see you again. And I guess I like to capture those moments on camera. A simple photo of a street, or a building has something special about it because I remember when I took it, where I took it, what happened before and after taking it and how I felt at that moment or that day.
Let’s just try and take a step back. No one is saying taking pictures takes away the possibility to cherish moments. It doesn’t. You can keep taking however many photos you like. But it makes those moments more special and memorable if you take the photos for yourself and if you look through the lens thinking about the here and now rather than your next Instagram post.