I love photography. Not only do I consider myself an amateur photographer, but I am also the one that can usually be found at parties and events snapping away. I love to share the photos with others. I also print them and put them in albums that we enjoy looking through from time to time. But there does exist the dilemma of finding the right balance between documenting memories and not missing the fun of the moment because you are so preoccupied with getting the shot.
When we have taken family vacations with our boys in the past, we seemed to find a decent balance between taking photos of the scenery and including us in some of the photos. Looking back in albums, we can reminisce about where we were and what we did. For about a decade when we shot slide film, we would enjoy fun family nights looking at slides of our adventures. Sometimes we use the photos to help answer questions like, “How old were the boys when we went to Montana?” If we can’t remember, we just look at the picture and figure it out. I couldn’t imagine taking a vacation without a camera. For me, that is part of the fun of the vacation.
We have photos of all the holidays and important milestones too, including birthdays and graduations. It is at our most recent (and last) college graduation this past weekend that this topic came up. It was very important to me to ‘document’ the milestone of our younger son in his cap and gown with family and if possible with some of his friends too. The graduation venue was large, the ceremony long (the largest graduating class in the history of the school), and the weather drizzly when we exited the building. What was on many minds was getting away from the throng and scoring something to eat. In the end, everyone was a pretty good sport about indulging me with my photos, but I wish I could have taken more and with better backgrounds.
To throw me off even more than the rushed photo session was the fact that there was no cap to go with the gown. Why? Well, if you have been to a graduation ceremony before, the last thing many students do after moving the tassel from one side of their cap to the other is to toss them in the air. Yup, ours was somewhere back on the arena floor and it got scooped up right away. So the few photos I did get had gown but no cap.
I must say that those few photos did capture the essence of the moment, albeit sans cap and with random strangers in the background. But in that moment I was struggling to be in the moment without ‘worrying’ about the missing cap and getting the event documented. I know that I wanted to be able to look back at the event as my memory fades years from now, but I also wanted our son to be able to have these photos at a time in the future when he might be looking for them. Perhaps that future time and situation was a bit too abstract for him right now though.
Looking back at my milestones, even coming from a family where photography is in our genes, I don’t have photos of every event. I don’t know why exactly. Did I not always cooperate with my parents about taking my photo with my friends when I got older? I really don’t remember. What I do know is that I wish I had more photos of some events, including my graduations. I don’t know if that is why I was so intent on getting this past weekend's graduation day documented.
I don’t know how to explain it, but having photos is part of the event for me, part of the memory. I just have to remember that photos don’t necessarily hold the same importance for everyone else though.
|Wouldn't you want to remember Annie Lenox, Willie Nelson, and Carole King at your graduation and shaking their hands?|
|One, two, three! There goes the cap!|
|Who needs photos or a cap? C'mon, we're hungry!|