Taking memories vs taking pictures

From the streets of Helsinki

From the streets of HelsinkiOftentimes I find myself flipping through a select bunch of photo-related RSS feeds. Yesterday (can’t remember how exactly… ah, there it is, it was something like 9 wedding photographers shooting on film), I stumble upon Samm Blake’s website and see her minimalist and poetic personal work, mostly from travels. Obviously GAS kicks in and I Google which cameras/films she is using. And find myself reading the interview on skiptownonline.com.

I get the answer to my question – she is fond of her Contax 645, Mamiya 6 and Olympus Trip. But a more important and thought-provoking section was how she describes her most memorable travel experience.
Answering to the question “Name a place or experience that you really loved”, Samm describes a situation when her train window was exactly aligned with the window of the train coming in the opposite direction, when the two trains stopped for a few minutes. In the end, she says:

[blockquote sign=”Samm Blake”]I have no photographs, just a lovely memory. I admit, i wish I had photos of them, but maybe why its my favorite travel experience because I can only relive it through memory?[/blockquote]

And it gets me thinking. Yeah, I like travelling with a camera as well. But I must agree that the experience part trumps taking the travel shots. A more fulfilling way to travel is for the experience, not for the images, right?
It’s almost like you take the shots because you acknowledge that you have a different perspective to that environment and the people than the locals do. And you practice that by applying your “vision”, or however you call it. And there is pleasure in that process, there’s no denying it. Taking travel pics is a fun activity.

But the interesting part lies in the last few words – maybe the experience is more memorable or important to you, when (a) you can only relive it from the memory and (b) you didn’t have the distraction of taking the picture at the moment, and this is what made it special.

That being said, there is sometimes almost a week that goes by without me taking any pictures. I prefer the time we have fooling around with the little ones to catching some of it in the frame. But when we do take the camera out, we take it out to take pics, quite a few of them.

Unlucky that we have to choose between the two – having the memory or indulging in some picture-taking. How do you tackle that? Or avoid tackling it at all?

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