Life Through a Lens – Photographing Your Journey

Date Created: 04.04.2014

We all take photographs when we travel – some of us a lot more than others – what do you ‘see’ where you are?

Photography has come a long way since the early cameras. We now carry devices with us that allow us to capture special and interesting moments and although we are sometimes discouraged from digitising these events, when used in moderation alongside a mindful approach to life we can immortalise moments and treasure the glimpses of our past.

When we are travelling far from the familiar it also provides an opportunity for us to ‘see’ the unique in our new environments and appreciate beauty anew. It may be in the architecture, the fauna and flora, the people and the culture but wherever we see that special something that catches our attention we have the ability to make a permanent representation of it.

The recently released advert by the Australian Canon company has wonderfully captured the essence of ‘seeing’ where you are. There are billions of us on the planet who see and experience life through our own filters each day, some beautiful, some painful, some heart wrenching and some simply amazing but all memorable and special to those who feel them.

Life before the advent of mobile phone cameras and tablets was not as easily or as accurately recalled and although there is something to be said for rose-tinted memories of the past made more colourful by the stories we add to them, there is also the joy of a moment relived when we have a photograph. First experiences are especially those we enjoy looking back on.

That first time you experience a plane journey, the first time we glimpse a new skyline, the first time we set foot on foreign soil and the first time we savour the local delicacies are just a few examples. When family and friends are separated from us by oceans and continents we are able to share our experiences, providing them with a window on our new world and they have a chance to send us images of the familiar world back home and share their moments that we are not able to physically participate in.

Family across the miles get to see baby’s first tooth, first ballet lesson, first day of school, first chocolate stained face. Other moments like your first day at work, your first driving experience on the other side of the road, your first night on the town are just as memorable. Although for those living abroad seeing photos of an engagement party, a wedding, a graduation, a new pet or a special celebration can be tinged with sadness and longing, at least there is the chance to know that all is well and life goes on with all its ups and downs.

When the time comes to leave a place that has become like a second home, photographs and videos provide a treasured bank of experiences that connect us like spider webs to the places and people we grow to love. Photobooks depicting walks through the woods, fun in the mud, basking in the sun and foreign pets that have formed part of your circle can transport you to a different space at a different time and feel the joy of those moments.

When Facebook decided to make the ‘year in review’ movies available, they were shared with much enthusiasm. These highlights of our past give us time to reflect on the loves of our lives, the silliness, the laughter and the milestones and also give us an idea of where our hearts lie. Now that Twitter not only allows you to share four photographs at a time but also allows you to tag up to ten friends the facilities for fast photo sharing across the globe are at our fingertips. We would probably never be able to top the selfie with Ellen Degeneres but that won’t stop us from sharing fun on our outings.

Daily events in our lives may not be headline news to the rest of the billions on our planet but they mean something to us. Life is fleeting and often we do not have the time or the inclination to stop a while and smell the flowers or inhale the aroma of a freshly brewed coffee but photography can make us mindful of the special moments that we experience, whether big or small, and the joy they bring us. Joy shared is joy multiplied and a picture is worth a thousand words and therefore photographs provide us with a unique opportunity to tell a story and multiply our joys.

Vanessa is a freelance journalist living in California. She has relocated twice with her family, firstly from South Africa to Sussex in the United Kingdom and then to San Francisco. She is also an avid amateur floral photographer and blogs her photos at Fables and Flora