Human memory is a funny thing. While we experience life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our brain only records specific moments that we can access after the moment has passed. That’s one of the reasons why photographs are so amazing — they work like little picture brains, helping to catalog the parts of our life that we can’t trust our brains to remember.
When I’m traveling, I love to take a ton of photos (like just about everyone else in the world), but while some people aim to capture images like this:
I’m more interested in this:
Is it as aesthetically beautiful as the other photo? No way. Does it do a much better job of reflecting a specific moment of my trip? Absolutely. The church photo is a good one, no doubt. That said, it’s probably similar to thousands of other photos and doesn’t do anything for giving context to where and what I was doing at the time. It’s purely attractive. The mortadella photo brings me back to the exact moment that I was walking the streets during my trip to Tuscany last November. It reminds me of the cackle I let out when I saw that enormous chunk of mortadella. It reminds me of the sample I took and the moment that I actually considered buying one of those wedges.
Photos of things are great to impress your friends, but photos of moments from your life are infinitely more valuable. The next time you stop to take a picture of a mountain or a tall building, perhaps you should consider shifting your focus (literally) and grabbing a shot of that weird pigeon that keeps following your wife instead. Photographs are visual stories and as the photographer, you’re the storyteller.
Looking for more gear to take better photos? How about a memory card? Maybe a new digital camera? Now’s as good a time as any to stock up on camera equipment so you’re not stuck with just your smartphone on your next trip.