As someone active in social media, there is a very serious undercurrent of the concept, “Share a picture, or it didn’t happen.”
As a photographer, the pressure is even higher, since the concept becomes, “Share a fantastic picture, or not only did it not happen, you’re not good at your job.”
Well, maybe not quite like that, but that’s what it feels like to my overly motivated, dedicated, creative mind. Living life as a creative image producer is awesome and simultaneously difficult. It’s hard to live with that pressure- sometimes I just want to actually experience my life, and not capture all these moments. As soon as I take the time to step away from my camera, though, I see something gorgeous and I’m immediately kicking myself for not bringing it.
There’s also the feeling, as a creative, to have a perfect life. I’ve seen so many stylized shoots that make it look like I should lead a very organized, perfectly decorated, color-coordinated life. You know- a white office with fresh flowers and a feather pen with an inkwell, perfectly placed next to my vintage film camera. In reality, it’s not like that. My desk still has some leaves from a fall shoot, a recipe for maple salmon that I intend to try with steelhead, paper covered in scribbles (notes, lists, inspiration), memory cards, pictures, coffee (of course!)…
…you know what? Here’s an honest look at what life looks like in Heidi’s office right now.
One of the many things that I do as a business owner is write this blog. Some of you have been reading for years, so you know it’s a total mix of race reviews and work I’ve done as a photographer, time on (and in!) the water, with a little fly fishing thrown in for fun, and plenty of dancing and beer drinking with friends. What I’ve found, as a part of trying to keep up with “day in the life” kinds of posts, is that I end up taking photos of my life that show it how I want it to be seen, not the way it actually is. It even interferes with the way I end up living my life- as if it’s just for the images that I will capture. Have you found yourself thinking, “Oh, I’m going to do _________ for the Instagram photo that I’ll be able to post later?”
I’ve definitely done it, though it was partly because I also REALLY wanted to eat this delicious treat. This bakery didn’t hire me, I just wanted to take a picture of it and share it on Instagram to show off all the new skills I learned in my last food and beverage photography class.
In fact, if you look at that photo, the white space between the cookies on the far left is where I took a huge bite before the shoot, so the plate shows through. I could have edited it out, but I left it as a sign of my weakness (and addiction to chocolate). 🙂
I’m not sure how I feel about that. I do know that I find myself wanting to take a photo at every single awesome moment in my life and share it with my 1,000,000 closest friends on social media. And, since I’m a photographer, and I also love going on solo adventures, in order to capture those moments, well…I apologize for all the selfies.
I’m a notorious selfie-taker, as many of you know. Granted, you won’t find a selfie of me making a duck face in a bar bathroom, but you will find selfies of me waist-deep in a cold stream, at the top of a mountain, with a group of my friends or family, with my crazy smiley pup, or halfway through a marathon.
I find this “picture or it didn’t happen” phenomenon to be the most disturbing in my fly fishing life. When I’m out, chasing trout or smallies, hiking around, or floating, I find myself mentally framing images. It’s hard to separate my photographer brain from the part of my brain that just wants to take in beauty. I constantly reassure myself that it’s more than okay to just look. To observe, and absorb, and enjoy, without trying to figure out how to capture for posterity. Sure, part of the “problem” is that trout live in absolutely astonishingly beautiful places. It’s hard not to want to take pictures non-stop.
When I’m fishing, I almost always take a camera. It’s rarely a little camera, since I’m afraid I’ll miss the opportunity for the “shot of my lifetime,” so it’s usually one of my bigger DSLRs. Sometimes it hinders my ability as an angler, because I know with 100% certainty that when I’m mentally producing my next image, I’m not reading the water or listening or trying to catch the bugs to match the hatch. When I take my camera and I’m out with friends, I catch great shots of them chasing fish, and I end up switching my brain to “photographer mode” instead of “angler mode.”
I wish that I had a foolproof solution to this. I wanted to title this blog post, “How to Actually Experience Life Without Needing to Capture It,” but I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
The only thing that I do know is that capturing a moment does make it easier to share those moments, but it doesn’t mean they’ll never happen again. We’re in charge of our own lives, so if there is something that I love to do (fly fishing!), I will seek it out in the future. Whether or not I captured a great shot from my last adventure has no bearing on whether I can go on others. As I actively work to reduce stress in my life, I’m officially letting go of the feeling that anytime something awesome happens, it won’t happen again. I’m a grown-ass woman. I can make my dreams come true!
If you know anything about me, I love a good adventure. I’ll always be looking for the next one, and in the meantime, I’ll be trying to find my balance between living in the moment and trying to pause it in an image.
Miles this year: 387.15