Life Through a Blurry Lens: The Picture Taking Mindset

Would you still visit that place or go to that event if you couldn’t take your camera with you to document it? We live in a time where everything is a photo opportunity or a chance to boost our Instagram feeds. Don’t get me wrong; I admire photography. Pictures can be an artistic expression of who we are and what we enjoy doing. It is a beautiful ability to freeze the fleeting moments in life, and to then look back and press play on those memories.

However, as much as I love it, many people are obsessed with the picture taking mindset and are motivated to do things for the sole purpose of having something to post. We are often so focused on getting a worthy picture that we spend all of our time seeing our surroundings through the lens of our phone. Spoiler alert: the world is immensely more beautiful from our own eyes than from any phone or camera lens.

We are fortunate to go to school in such a vibrant city, with never-ending festivals and countless things to do. After being here for almost two years, I have found that the picture taking mindset is one that many of my peers fall into, myself included. Would anyone go to the Fly on Fridays if you couldn’t post it on Instagram or Snapchat to prove you were there? Would you spend so much time planning Mardi Gras outfits? Would you want to buy concert tickets if you couldn’t take videos? Would you do any of these things if no one knew you were doing them?

All of these are aspects of New Orleans that make Tulane an amazing school. Relaxing at the Fly with friends, going to Mardi Gras parades, and seeing live music have been some of my most memorable and enjoyable moments here. However, a moment can be ruined or wasted when you try too hard to capture it. Don’t waste the moment; the Fly is much more enjoyable when you put your phone down, turn the music up, and watch the sunset paint the New Orleans sky.

There is some unwritten rule that before anyone does anything, we must dedicate our time to getting the perfect picture first. This picture taking period has become something I truly dread. I get so eager to get to my destination or start enjoying where I am that I get extremely impatient. Of course, I can choose not to participate in this ritual, but then I would usually end up having to take everyone else’s pictures! I think I especially dread it because I know the truth behind it, as I am guilty of it myself.

We put so much effort into getting a picture to show how cool and interesting our lives are; however, they are not accurate depictions at all. How much we are smiling does not reflect how happy we actually were to be there. How many friends are in our pictures does not show the quality of our relationships. Lastly, someone having a better Instagram feed does not indicate that their life is more interesting and exciting, because  we are too immersed to even think about capturing some of the best moments in life. A good feed could even just mean that they have the blurred picture taking mindset. There are even occasions where people just do a “get the picture and go,” without actually attending the event or stopping to appreciate it.

Live music is one of my greatest passions. I’ve been to countless concerts and music festivals, and I have tons of pictures to prove it. However, I have changed my approach at these shows over the years. I used to spend the entire concert staring at my phone screen as I recorded every single song. Six songs would go by before I remembered that my favorite artist was actually right in front of me—even if they looked like a little ant on stage. Now I try to record only my favorite few choruses, so I can be present in the moment. Then I can fully enjoy the special opportunity to hear my favorite artists share their talent live. I have also realized it is much easier to dance at a music festival when my phone is not above my head and almost falling out of my hands the whole time. Concerts have really helped me remember to be present in the moment and break free from the picture taking pull.

I still take so many pictures and love to document my life, acquiring tangible memories to look back on. Pictures can be a form of art or a collection of special moments. I sometimes find myself wanting to do something because of the picture potential, however, I try to acknowledge that and set new intentions.

Life is about adventuring, discovering, and documenting on the way, whether it is through writing or photography. Just remember not to get caught up and stuck viewing the world behind a camera lens. When your intentions get blurred, remind yourself to do things because you want to, not because of their postability. Live in the moment, and love the moment.

COVER PHOTO: Engadget

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