We went to family fav-place Longwood Gardens last night for New Year’s eve. It was cold but the lights on all the trees were beautiful and the fireworks were loud and fun. Going around I kept thinking about how many cameras were around. I took a few photos of course, but I realized I’m starting to develop a reaction to Obsessive Photography Disorder. How many fuzzy pictures of long-ago fireworks do people need to store on their hard drives?
A few weeks ago I took an eye-opening picture at a wedding. It was a quick photo of the bride and father walking down the “aisle” (it was more a space between tables in a small banquet room). I must have had squirming Francis in one arm, the camera in the other, because it’s all blurry. The light’s bad, there’s red eye, it’s totally not something to send up to Flickr. But what’s haunting about the picture is the background: behind the bride you can see four people. From left to right, they are: taking a picture, holding camera at neck level ready to take a picture, leaning back from the camera screen setting up a shot, and looking down at a display reviewing the just-taken picture. This is a wedding and it’s the dramatic part: the bride’s just entered the room and is about to be given away by her father (it’s a second wedding so I can’t take the symbolism too far, but still this should be a holy moment).
Many Friends Meetings ban cameras in wedding ceremonies and I shouldn’t have relaxed my standards to take my own photograph of the wedding-in-progress. There are times where our presence is much more important than any documentation. I dare say that none of the two-dozen or so walking-down-the-aisle photos taken that day are worth developing or printing. I use my picture-taking for memory’s sake and love looking at old shots of the family, and a few of the pictures I took that day are definite keepers. But us compulsive shutter bugs need to know when to put the camera down.