“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” ~ Albert Einstein

Pause. Take a moment and experience what is happening around you. Do we even know how to do this any longer? In a world of go, go, go, of instant communication and limited privacy do we ever just stop to experience the moment we are in?  I had a conversation tonight with a friend while at a local festival about this.   Throughout the day we had walked around and watched dancers and drummers, enjoyed traditional Japanese food and marveled at the Yukata and other clothing people were wearing. Everywhere I turned there was something photo-worthy, I spent the majority of the afternoon with my camera in hand. We ended the evening by staking out a piece of lawn near the frog pond to watch the lanterns being lit.  The lawn around the pond was full of families and friend laid out on their blankets and along the benches.  And in every group there was at least one person with a camera out, and in at least every six groups there was one person with a DSLR.  As the lanterns were lit the shutter clicks took off, people everywhere were snapping photos left and right, elbowing their way around for the right angle.  Bethany commented that this would be different if people still had film cameras. She estimated that half those people wouldn’t be taking photos. She’s right. In the digital world we don’t have to worry about high processing and film costs, we just click and upload to the computer and maybe to facebook.  Do the majority of these photos we have to take even make it off the computer any longer? It made me think.

As photographers, as a culture of digital cameras and camera phones, when do you stop shooting and just take time to appreciate that which is around you?  When do you pause, put down the camera and experience life?  Tonight there were beautiful lanterns being lit and floated along in the pond. Wonderfully soothing music being played and the temperature was near perfection. It would have been a gorgeously peaceful moment, except that only about 1/16th of the people there were actually in the moment, the rest were trying desperately to capture the moment on camera.   But what good is a moment captured if you don’t actually experience it?  I’m as guilty as the next photographer, I can’t remember the last time I went out without my camera.  Don’t get me wrong, I wholly believe that beautiful moments, that life, should be remembered and experienced again through photos. But I’m challenging myself to start taking time to experience the moments, to pause from time to time and put the camera down. To see the world without the boundaries of my viewfinder.