There was a time when the only camera I could afford was a disposable until my parents gave me a 35mm camera for my birthday. That school year I put it to use a lot as the yearbook photographer. I remember the excitement of wanting to get to the darkroom and process the rolls of film to see the final outcome. That processing phase was always just as exciting as taking the photos. There are some aspects of that phase in which I miss.
I can recall a number of vacations carrying around a disposable camera and then having to wait until those photos were processed at my local pharmacy or film processing center. Several days later when I was able to pick them up I couldn’t wait to show my friends which required being physically present. Sunday evenings spent at the local diner passing photos around that had to be viewed in a particular order to understand the whole vacation or adventure story.
As for hiking trips, well I rarely took any photos. I mean, who wanted to lug around a heavy 35mm camera or find room in the pack to stuff a disposable? But even though photos were rarely taken on such outdoor adventures I remember my friends were eager to hear about it. They still wanted to hear the story.
Today, we can snap a photo easily from anywhere. There is no processing time and they can be shared within seconds with not only our friends but the world. And these days it seems if you don’t have a photo or two the trip never happened.
Just the other day I shared across my social media a photo from a recent hike. Within moments not one, not two, but several people reached out to comment; “Good to see you posting again. It’s been a few days. I was wondering what happened to you.” I responded to one and received the following reply; “You do know if you don’t have pics it didn’t happen?” Uh, what?
Why do we feel the need to post and share every adventure? Don’t answer that as there as many unhealthy reasons why.And why do we assume if a photo isn’t posted that person is either MIA or the adventure never happened? Human behavior these days truly has me scratching my head, but let’sa move on.
I want to focus on just one point. First, let me say that I was a little taken back when this individual attempted to claim ‘pic of it didn’t happen.’ What did it matter to them in the first place? It was my adventure, my time in the outdoors, my time to enjoy what I love to do. It had nothing to do with them and I was simply attempting to share a moment. A very brief moment.
Now, I’ll admit openly, I had fallen into this trap of thinking I HAD to take photos and share them with everyone. Why? I mean, it’s my time, however, the way I spend it in the outdoors is my time not anyone else’s. Unless I am joined by friends or family why does the world need to know?
Regardless of someone commenting “pic or it didn’t happen” the time spent in the outdoors is my time to disconnect, clear the mind, enjoy what God has created, talk with Him, listen to Him, and simply be in the moment.
If we’re caught up with looking for and taking the right pics to post in hopes of getting the attention we’re missing the point of why we go outdoors in the first place. I’m not saying sharing our moments and stories with others is wrong and not to do it. Remember those times you’d pass around your vacation photos or family albums. We passed them around to our closest friends and family so we could tell a story. We didn’t tape them to a billboard outside our house for the whole neighborhood to view. Sure, we know who some of our neighbors were, but we didn’t really know them. So why do we feel the need to share our photos with the whole world? Some will say; “I do it to be transparent.” Okay, I get that and agree being transparent is good and healthy, but not with the whole world. Not with a bunch of people you’ve never physically met or have had long conversations with over the phone.
Now, I know this is going to be difficult and tweak some brain cells but bare with me. What if on your next outdoor adventure you did NOT take one photo. Not one. Instead, you spend the entire time being completely in the moment allowing everything you see and hear write a vivid story in your mind that is later shared by…telling it. Or, you don’t share it at all and keep it tucked away to yourself. Holding onto it as if it was a special photo stashed in your wallet that wears and fades in time but you know it’s still there to pull out when no one is around.
Often I read posts, which seem to come around Thursday of each week, “can’t wait for the weekend so I can get outdoors, escape and disconnect.” Are we really disconnecting if we’re busy taking photos and posting them the moment we have a signal or wifi connection? Not to mention the need to “escape.” Escape from what? The word escape means; to break free from confinement or control. So either the word isn’t being used correctly or there are a whole lot of people who feel confined and controlled.
Going to the outdoors to explore a trail, backcountry, mountains, lakes, and wildlife should be time well spent renewing our minds, refreshing our souls, and drawing closer to the One who created it all. And those deeply personal moments with Him are not always meant to be shared with anyone else.
Pic or it didn’t happen? It doesn’t matter because it wasn’t meant for anyone else but you and/or the friends and family who went along on the adventure with you.