I have been reading a book called Photographs Not Taken (ed. Will Steacy). It’s a collection of essays written by well-known photographers from around the world, who describe the many, or few, instances in which particular photographs are not taken. Some of the photographers look upon these instances with regret, feeling they were neither fast enough nor shrewd enough to capture that precise quintessential or decisive moment. Others, like Elinor Carucci, look upon these moments of photographs not taken as a delicate balance between being present in the moment and simply recording it. And some find these instances of photographs not taken dangerous and even humorous at times because of the lengths they were willing to go to get THE photograph and to still come away empty handed.
Reading these essays, and some more than once, I think about my own interactions with the camera. I am not one of those people who has to have the camera around my neck at all times, in fact, during family gatherings and times when most people reach for the camera, I purposefully leave mine at home. My mother frequently admonishes me at Thanksgiving or Christmas for not bringing along The Camera but I want to savor and enjoy the time I have with my family – on the ground level – I want to be in the thick of it.
At the same time, my parents are starting to get older and I am getting older as well. My husband is getting older. Hmmm… really none of us are getting any younger!! Last year my younger sister had some major health challenges and at one point we didn’t know if she would make it. I am happy to report that she did!
These days I often find myself considering how precious life is and how I might like to spend those fleeting moments of joy and happiness with my family and friends. In this, regard it’s exciting that you can have the power of a camera and creativity within a compact tool such as the IPhone or Android. And so when my mother asks, “Where’s your camera?” I can say “Right Here!” and I don’t have to be saddled with a tremendous amount of gear!
Honestly, I think the photographs that are not taken are just as important as the ones that are. Take time to be present, to be in the moment, I think you will be surprised by what you see.