May 16, 2024

Camera Crazy

My ancient 4MP camera broke a few months ago. I have not replaced the old point and shoot yet, and you know what I am finding?

No camera - no problem. I have never owned a smart phone, so I have no camera at all. 

Since the ever-present smart phone made it into everyone's pocket, picture taking devices have been more available than any time since the invention of the photographic camera in the early 1800s.

Now, we are crazily documenting the minutia of our lives 24/7. The use of photo-based social media sites is now a central part of people's lives.

Whether the ubiquitous nature of digital photographic devices has been a good thing for society or not has yet to be decided.

There is some evidence that greater exposure to visual imagery dulls our senses. 

On the other hand, studies exist that indicate that "photo-taking can naturally promote mindful attention to visual aspects of experiences. Such mindful photo-taking can increase enjoyment of and memory for experiences, generate positive mood, and heighten life-satisfaction."

But I have been wondering for years now - do we really need to record and share every minute detail of our lives down to what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and supper? 

We can't just enjoy breakfast, lunch and supper any more, and that seems like a loss of sorts.

That is why I have not been missing my camera. 

The easy ability to record everything instantly can be a burden as well as a blessing.

Instead of being in the moment, the act of photography may take us into the future with thoughts about the framing of the picture, who we might share the image with and on what platform, and more importantly, what our images reflect about us and our lives.

Most of the photos I take are when I explore natural areas so I can share my activities with Linda (who is unable to join me due to her medical condition).

Gardening, biking, bird watching, hiking, and snowshoeing are all activities that Linda likes to see evidence of upon my return home.

She even likes the shots I take of animal poop so she can hone her tracking skills.

But nature activities are those that lend themselves to moving meditation, which I particularly enjoy.

When I don't have a camera along with me, it clears me to simply enjoy the moment instead of harbouring thoughts of documenting the moment.

Then, it is just me and nature in perfect harmony, unsullied by technology and desires for some future benefit from my photography, even if it is just Linda liking what I bring home.

I can get lost in the moment, and totally merge with my surroundings. I find this particularly stress relieving and regenerating. 

I can feel my connection with the environment more strongly.

I will be getting a new camera eventually, although it is getting increasingly difficult to find an inexpensive, quality point and shoot as manufacturers drop them due to poor sales.

Who would even buy those old cameras these days except us Neo-Luddites? 

In the meantime, it is just me and old fashioned reality experienced straight up. 

What do you think? Are cameras making us more mindful, or less? Does picture taking enhance the moment, or detract from it?

And more importantly, with trillions of images being taken, is a picture still worth a thousand words? 


  1. Good question. I think cameras- the old fashioned kind not attached to a smart phone- definitely have their place. I remember travelling with mine, it was large by todays' standards but it did mean every photo I took was pretty mindful and deliberate. Smart phone cameras are handy and provide good quality pics without the insane cost of developing camera roll BUT the mindlessness of them. Oh my lord. It's so weird taking photos of your meal and posting it, or the endless selfies or going to concerts etc and just watching it while recording through a screen. I dunno. I just feel people miss out these days by not being present in the moment at certain events. While I don't remember every tiny detail of special meals out with a loved one or an amazing show, I do remember how they made me feel. I don't need a photo for that.

    1. Anonymous5/19/2024

      People don't really watch concerts any more. They record them. Maybe they watch them later in the comfort of their homes. With the price of concerts these days, those are pretty expensive recordings.

      Definitely missing out.

      - Gregg

  2. Anonymous5/21/2024

    I just returned from a trip with my family. The location was beautiful and I did take photos of it. I love finding beautiful colors and textures. And capturing the smiling faces of my loved ones. Seeing these pictures months and years later brings a lot of joy and good feelings. And I like to paint watercolors from photos of my travels.

    I am, however, very aware of how quickly phone-taken photos add up! You can get too much of a good thing very quickly. I tend to cull through my images and only keep favorites. I don’t need hundreds of photos to tell me I enjoy my life.

    So I enjoy where I am and what I’m doing (and who I’m with), snapping a few shots here and there. I don’t participate in social media, so the impulse to constantly think about what I can share is gone. I LOVE THAT FREEDOM.

    I did notice one of my loved ones being in a gorgeous place, immediately taking out the camera, then obsessing about getting the best picture. While I soaked in the moment and scenery with my eyes, she would show me her perfect photo (while we were looking at the actual thing or place!). I was astounded. Who cares about the picture when the REAL THING is right there?! I am still amazed that people do that.

    I’m glad I don’t. :)
    Peace, Erin


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