My photo archives are like a journal of my life. I can spot the periods of busyness, stress, or deadlines by the gaps there. I can also spot the winter months that way. Around November my picture-taking mojo tends to curl up for a nap. I love snapping photos in the spring or fall when the light splashes and dapples across flower petals, leaves, and faces in surprising ways. But the months of gray skies and bare branches don’t seem quite worth recording.
Last week as we were leaving for an ordinary walk around the neighborhood, on a whim, I raced back inside to grab the camera. As I strolled along with my camera, I discovered all kinds of beauty hiding in the muted landscape.
It was a good reminder. As much as I love taking photos, I’ve feared that sometimes the camera yanks my family right out of the moment, that it can transform a hike or a vacation into a pressure-packed challenge to record our lives. Sometimes we’re so busy capturing the waves or the fun that we don’t quite experience them, you know? I’ve also taken some interest in the national conversation about whether our collective obsession with photo-taking might be unhealthy for our kids.
I’m reminded that while the digital camera, like most technology, will probably have some ill effects, it’s an incredible gift. Not only can we forever revisit the impossible cuteness of our kids’ toothless grins. Our cameras help us pay attention to the beauty in ordinary things. Mine will be a more frequent winter walk companion.