The glowing colors of a magnificent sunrise, a red fox tiptoeing through snow in the back yard, the face of a grandchild who has just discovered something new—another perfect "Kodak moment." And, of course, you don’t have the camera.
What’s the answer? You could try carrying a camera everywhere you go, hyper-alert for the next photo op, your finger poised to capture the moment for posterity.
I remember a visit a few years ago to the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, a magnificent building filled with lush rococo gilding, carving, paintings, and statues. Its ceilings were painted with choir after choir of cherubs. It had more gold leaf than a fall New England landscape. To someone like me who thinks off-white is a color, its opulence was all more than a bit much. But even though it would be overwhelming to live in, it was marvelous to visit.
One man in our group went through the whole tour with his eyes glued to the viewfinder of a video camera. He couldn’t possibly have seen the full, wonderful extravagance of the rooms, because he limited his view of them to an inch-square screen. He was there on the spot, live and in person—and he missed it completely because he was so busy taking pictures.
I don’t mean to suggest there’s anything wrong with taking pictures. They can be works of art, images that stir emotions, and visual records of people we love. They can be a way to trigger and preserve memories. Still, you may not be creating any memories to recall if you focus all your attention on your camera and none on the experience you’re photographing.
Certainly, carry your camera. Take pictures when you have a chance or make an opportunity. Just don’t forget to look outside of the camera as well. When you fully experience where you are and what is happening around you, you’ll store images in your brain that are far more vivid than anything you can capture in a photograph.