For years, I’ve created lists of goals and among these lists I have always scribbled “take more photographs.”
I don’t know why I always make this goal. Maybe because all of my friends take photos more than I do. Maybe because other people I know have Facebook albums and Instagram feeds full of moments and memories while mine all reside in my mind and my words only. Maybe because my parents have big boxes and albums full of faded photographs that they take out and look at, remembering pieces of their pasts that will never be tangible for me.
But I’ve never felt particularly empty without photographs. I’ve never really thought “if only I had photographed that moment.” That moment after prom when I watched the fireworks, feeling both alive and afraid. That moment last summer when I walked through an unfamiliar town, taking in the familiarity that still existed there. That moment on the lake a few months ago when I realized that this could be my last summer here, in the place I’ve known forever. That moment when I stopped letting my fears control me. When I started saying what I mean. When I started taking chances. When I started opening my eyes and taking the world in and becoming a part of the world. Not someone off to the sides, just watching. Not someone just waiting.
I’ve carried these feelings with me; I’ve let them impact my daily life in a way a photograph never could. I don’t remember exactly what the fireworks looked like or what I was wearing at the beach or whether or not the sun made me squint my eyes (even though there’s no way it didn’t). But I do remember how I felt.
And I don’t need proof. I do not need to show my Facebook friends or my Instagram followers that those moments were real, because I felt them. I felt them deep within me and I still do.
The most beautiful moments cannot be recreated. They cannot be crafted. They simply happen, often when we don’t have a camera or a cell phone to capture them. The truth is, when I’m experiencing something that inspires me and teaches me and guides me and amazes me, I don’t even think about taking a picture.
I just let it happen. I let the moment happen in its purest, most natural, most exhilarating form, #nofilter needed.
Note: I still enjoy taking photographs and see so much beauty in the art form.