Do you remember how it used to be, before we all had cameras in our phones? I’d take a disposable camera with me to Girl Scout Camp, then have to wait weeks before my mom could go with me to get the film developed. By the time I got the photos back, the shapes of my friends’ faces would just be starting to recede from my memory. I’d sit on my bed with the photos spread around me, each one telling a part of the story I had experienced.
Now, of course, I have a camera with me wherever I go. Getting the printed photos back from the film developer just isn’t a part of life anymore. I still like to collect and catalog my photos, though, making albums on Flickr and Facebook and taking time on weekend afternoons to click through, remembering where I was and who I was with when each photo was taken.
Taking photos has always been important to me, and I think it’s important to a lot of people. One of my friends, who has often teased me about taking too many photographs, sent me a link to a recent XKCD comic. In the comic, called “Photos,” two characters argue with each other about whether taking a picture means you aren’t fully experiencing what’s around you. “Trying to take a picture of a thing makes me pay more attention to it,” argues the photog. “Some of my best adventures are built around trying to photograph something.” I would agree.
When my boyfriend–as of this Christmas, my fiancé–and I started dating and getting serious, I found that my attitude towards photography started to change. Where I was previously happy to take pictures of friends enjoying an event, or of buildings and architectural features I found interesting, I now want more pictures of the two of us together. This, I tell you, is hard.
Unlike pausing during a hike to take a quick shot of an unusual tree–which I can do in under 10 seconds–taking a picture with my boyfriend really does stop the action. I have to announce that I want to take a picture of us, I have to pull out my DIY camera extender (aka the “selfie stick”), I have to line up the shot, I have to do all of the fuss involved in capturing the moment, which in fact means we are no longer in the moment.
I have figured out a few workarounds, though. When we go out in groups, I often whisper to a friend that I’d like her to snap a few pics of the two of us during the event. In return, I take pictures of that friend and her boyfriend, and of the rest of the crowd. Sometimes, when we’re on a trip, I let my boyfriend know in advance: “I’d like a picture of us when we reach that sculpture.” That way, the photo becomes part of the experience, not an interruption to it.
I’ve also signed my boyfriend and I up for a professional portrait session. Portrait studios are great places to get those pictures that you can’t get on your own; the really nice-looking, professional portraits that you can put on your wall or send to mom and dad. Since we got engaged over the Christmas holidays, we’ll have our official engagement photos taken together later this month.
I’m planning to spend a life with someone, and eventually–I hope–start a family. There are going to be a lot of experiences we’re going to share, and a lot of memories we’re going to make together. Taking photos has always been a big part of my life, and part of me will always be the girl with her pictures spread out on the bed, looking at them one by one and recalling everything that happened.