These past few years I’ve often wondered about the effect a camera has on my time outdoors. I love looking at my photies when I come home, and I’ll treasure them for the rest of my life, but does the time and effort involved detract from the experience of actually being there?
At the Gary Numan gig I got my answer. There were folk all through the crowd who spend much of the show (in some cases the whole show) with a camera or “device” of some sort held aloft, snapping or filming, adjusting as they went. Now, if you’re looking at an LCD screen you’re not looking at the stage, the lights, the faces of the performers, you’re not catching the nuances of the musicianship, you’re not absorbing the spectrum of emotion coming from both the PA and the audience. You can’t rewind the show because you missed it either, are you compromising the experience just to get some rubbish footage of three quarters of a song on YouTube before anyone else? Yes, I think you are.
I’m in the mountains, I’m ascending, the clouds break and light streams through. I throw off my pack and get the camera and tripod out. I take a shot, I set the timer, run around the front and grin a bit, then I stand and watch for a while to see what the clouds do next, I have a drink, I have a munchie too maybe.
I know that when I’m not alone and I’m doing that stuff I’m slowing someone else’s progress as well, but I can’t remember any toe-tapping or folk sighing and looking at their watches.
Maybe rather than being a pain, stopping to take a photie is stretching that moment when the view is just perfect. Watching more intently, feeling the seconds tick by as the cloud slowly peels from the summit, or the sun slips over the horizon spraying the sky with ever changing colour. I don’t think that I would have half the memories and have caught half the moments that I have if I’d have kept moving. Stopping and fannying about with a camera would appear to be a good thing.