The Art of taking less photos

pic21I was with a couple of friends in a walking tour of Grenada, Spain, along with a bunch of other tourists. As usual we all came equipped with the latest camera gear, shooting every nook and corner of the famous Al-Hambra palace. At one point our tour guide informed us photos weren’t allowed upon entering one of the rooms, due to the effect of flashes on the fragile artwork. On a collective sigh we all put away our cameras, now being able to actually enjoy and appreciate the beauty before us, instead of focusing on our camera shots.

When I first started taking photos of my travels seven years ago, taking as many shots as possible was a good way to learn my new hobby. However, I missed out on many opportunities to savour the beauty, whether it be nature or people. Not to mention the painstaking task of going through thousands of vacation photos and choosing the best to put up on the plathora of websites. And since I have always been picky with my photos, the process would take months, if not years, to complete!

A friend I met in my travels was a constant shutterbug, annoying everyone by her constant need to shoot everything. One dude quipped that it was better to capture the scenery through the eyes, rather than a camera. I began to appreciate those words ever since and have found that the experience of taking less photos and focusing on the moment was priceless.

Now that may sound counter-intuitive for someone in the photography business, but the key is quality vs quantity. Since most of us these days own digital cameras that allow us the possibility of endless shots, we choose to click away rather than think our shots through and setting them up. Of course practise makes perfect when one is learning photography for the first time, but during my travels and vacations I’d rather not fidget with my camera.

Another thing I’ll mention which sounds counter-intuitive for someone teaching photography, but no photo will do the actual subject justice. Whenever I post my travel photos, I always put that caveat for my friends. Granted my improving photography skills over the years has enabled me to capture things better but if one is to truly appreciate the beauty one should get off their couches, shut off their laptops and just get out there! When I get complements like my friends living vicariously through my photos, I always insist they don’t…they should go visit these places themselves and see it for themselves. And it doesn’t have to be some expensive trip to a far off land, there’s plenty of beauty around in our own backyards. I know that’s easier said since I live in beautiful British Columbia, but it’s amazing how many people take that beauty for granted.

That’s why the nature photohikes are more than learning good photography skills which enables one to take quality pictures. But it also provides an opportunity to visit some of the most breathtaking scenery in person!

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