Family Fun, photography, Vacations

Taking Pictures is One of the Best Things About Traveling

Throughout my life, I’ve loved hearing stories about people who had an out-of-this-world passion for something–people who felt like they’d discovered their “calling” in life, and who subsequently did whatever it took to chase after that passion.

I would guess that most people have a similar affinity for these types of stories, maybe because they remind us of what is possible when we pour all of our energy and resources into just one thing.

I personally find those kinds of stories inspirational because even though I would consider myself as having many interests (many of which I take rather seriously), I still am a bit of a stranger to the “eat, sleep, breathe your passion” way of life, usually preferring instead the “try and cram in everything that I’ve ever been interested in” way of life.

To me, I am absolutely impressed by someone who is willing to close all other doors and go into just one with all of his (or her) energy in order to see just how far that one view will extend (rather than running in and out of several doors all at once, maybe only getting to explore a few easily-found rooms in the vast estate of possibilities).

And while I definitely often subscribe to my usual plan of trying to fit many interests into each day, I also relish the times when I’m more free to focus on one thing at a time because they give me a taste of what those “Passionate People” must feel like all the time (or so I think).
Take the next two weeks, for example–I’m in the home stretch before my next half marathon, and even though I wasn’t initially planning on trying to beat the time that I got in my last half, I’ve recently begun to ask myself, “Why NOT try to beat it? Why NOT train to run just a bit faster, even if it means I only beat my PR by a few seconds or so? What do I have to lose?”
So, with that extra push, much of my focus lately has been on running, which is just one of my many interests (I hesitate to say “passions,” simply because, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve never really known what it meant to eat-sleep-breathe a passion, except for maybe the 18 months I spent serving a mission for my church).

For much of this summer though, my focus has been more often than not on photography, and I’ve been riding a high wave of inspiration with that largely in part to all the adventures we’ve been able to have.

Now, you must know that I was bit by the travel bug early (something I mentioned all the way back in this rather old blog post).  To me, traveling has always equaled increased inspiration, so this concept isn’t exactly novel to me.

However, I HAVE recently realized that one of the number-one reasons I get the most excited to go anywhere new or try something adventurous nowadays is so that I can take pictures of it.

Now, I COULD choose to look at this phenomenon in a negative light—I could say something about  how regularly participating on social media maybe means I sometimes feel like I can only experience things by documenting them publicly, or about how maybe I get so caught up in getting The Picture that I forget to have The Experience.
I’m not choosing to take those viewpoints, though.
In fact, I think that always being on the lookout for The Picture makes me much more likely to notice (and enjoy) everything more in general whenever we’re out experiencing something new. Additionally, photography (for me) is the perfect blend of work and play, and as I’ve (also) written about before, a truly perfect vacation can’t be all about just lounging around and doing nothing—it needs to have a certain ratio of productivity and novelty and mindless relaxation in order to be the most efficacious towards improving one’s state of mental wellbeing.

I’ve also come to grips with the fact that my memory really isn’t what it used to be, so taking pictures and documenting everything through photography and blogging is my way of reminding myself of those things that I never want to forget.

So I hope you’ll forgive me if we’re ever out on an adventure together, and I’m lying sprawled out on the ground trying to get my perfect shot or trying to capture the light a certain way through those trees or telling you to move just slightly one way or another in order to be better framed by the landscape all around us…

Because for me, that’s how I best engrave forever the experience of our vacation together.

With all my love of getting The Photo aside, however, I must have you know that I am trying to more consciously document Life As It Really Is, too. As a photographer, I can sometimes be 100% guilty of manipulating where people are positioned or cropping out unwanted elements in order to get The Perfect Vacation Shot.

(And in all honesty, I’ll probably still do that much of the time because I love pushing myself to create better and better images.)

But on this last vacation to Island Park, I also tried to step back and allow in images that were a little messier or harshly lit or grainy or out of focus because if I waited any longer to try and get the “right” image, the moment would be gone, the chance to document Life Right Now wasted away.

So you might notice (or you might now that I’ve pointed it out to you) that some of these images are a lot more “tidy” or “picturesque” or “perfectly lit” than others.

It’s because in the end (as I sometimes need to remind myself), I want to remember the glorious vistas and the fabulous views and us looking awesome in that one place, but I also want to remember that it’s hard to take a photo while out with family without someone trying to photobomb us (hilariously) or that it’s kind of awesome how the baby’s ponytail is literally sticking straight up because her daddy thought it would be funny or how half the members of the photo are in shade while a few are in awkwardly dappled sunlight, but I was going to take the picture anyway because I wanted to remember everyone together, just like they were on that very moment of time.

So this little photo essay of our time at Mesa Falls, Idaho is my own chosen blend of the almost-perfect and the totally-real-life, and overall, I think it’s a pretty great representation of our vacation.

Oh, and I think that, lately anyway, I’m dangerously close to having to classify this photography thing as a true eat-sleep-and-breathe passion.

We’re about at that point.

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