Why I Stop Often Along the Way to Capture Images

Photo by Alif Ngoylung on Unsplash

“I loved to press the shutter, to freeze time, to turn little slices of life into rectangle rife with metaphor.”
 - Deborah Copaken on her earlier work as a freelance photographer in Europe

Sometimes I drive my husband crazy.  When out walking - whether during our travels in new places or at home just for exercise -  I often pause to take pictures. He would prefer to walk without pausing as it's more about the exercise and enjoying nature for him. By enjoying he means what he can see or smell. Very occasionally something will catch his eye - an eagle in a nest or a flock of snow geese taking flight - and he will stop for a moment, but that is rare

Photo by Jasper Gribble on Unsplash
When I walk by
myself, my focus is different. I want the exercise as well, but I also love to stop and capture moments, to see the small curiosities along the way, to breath and enjoy the unexpected. With a mind that is always racing ahead, it took creating a practice to help me slow down and dive into the beauty around me. The practice that works for me is pausing to snap a picture here and there. Most of the time I am not looking for the best photo ever. I use photography instead to help me notice the world around me instead of walking by it.  

To keep myself from having my eyes glued to the lens, I have embraced rapid shot photography.  My cell phone or camera is raised, I take a mere second to capture my image - a unique flower, a hidden tiny park, a sky full of color, a cloud that has an interesting shape - and then lower it so I can be in the moment. Pausing to take a photo this way makes sure my eyes focus and my mind sees, while not distracting me from being fully aware. These moments as I walk don't need long contemplation on what to photograph as our daily walks cover the same routes fairly often. The quick photos I do take reflect things like how the changing seasons are playing out along our routes.  

Photo by Redd on Unsplash
I also use rapid shot photography when I travel to capture the feel of an area as I walk through it. At the end of the day, I go back through the many images I have taken and delete up to 70 percent of them. Some didn't capture the scene, some have bad lighting, some are out of focus. I only save the ones that capture what drew my eye so I can both relish the memory and share the experience with others. 

Then there are the places that offer more depth, and I need to be still to really experience all they have to offer. In these moments I come to a full stop, I take a slow deep breath and exhale, often with my eyes closed. Next I open my eyes and try to fully engage all my senses - looking, listening, smelling. After I've fully taken as much as I can, I decide what image or images I want to photograph to help remember this moment.  The images are carefully composed before I take them, and I take only a few. This type of photography I find is easiest done when I am alone, so I don't feel any pressure to keep moving.

If you find you are power walking in a way that disengages you from experiencing the world you are passing by, I encourage to find a practice that works to help you see, smell and touch the beauty you are moving through.  For each of us that will be different.  On the other hand, if you find yourself missing the moments because you are always snapping images or taking videos, look for a practice that helps you find balance so you can also be in the moment and fully experience it.

Beauty is all around us and it is just too amazing to miss.