We all do it… no one admits to it though! You take 50 pictures of the exact same thing just so you can get the perfect trendy angle. Being an agricultural communication major, I have learned to appreciate the value of a great picture and lively social media. Perfect lighting, prime angle, steady hands are all things running through my mind when trying to take a single capture in a matter of seconds. Something about framing a scene can capture the very essence of a moment. After traveling through the Scottish Highlands, I decided to take a look at all the pictures I shot from the beautiful scenery that day. As I scrolled through 500 photos, I could not get over how not a single one of the images did the experience justice. Nothing came remotely close to the experience. To be honest, I find this to be true in most cases where I’m behind the camera. I started thinking about why I feel this way, and I came up with two possible solutions:

  1. I’m my own worst critic (you’ve all heard this one).
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words, but an experience is worth ten times more. 

I know I’m a huge self critic, however, criticisms aside, only a handful of the pictures I took related to the experience. Some may say the lighting was off, the angle was wrong, or just the sheer timing didn’t work, but there was something else missing. After spending some time in careful consideration, I had a conversation with Dr. Peake about the pictures.

I said, “You know I really don’t think I could ever take enough pictures, but they just never turn out the way you think they will.” Dr. Peake, “A picture doesn’t really engage all your senses like an experience does.”

Talk about hitting you like a ton of bricks! Wow! No one can replicate an experience the same way twice. This was a breakthrough moment for me on the trip. I’m so glad it happened before interacting with the Troqeer Primary School kids. How often do I obsess over getting the perfect picture or the right lighting instead of actually living in the experience? Was I overly concerned with creating this ideal image or capturing something “in the raw”? Here is the biggie… did I only care about me showing how much fun I was having instead of showing the authentic moments like kids laughing at “silly American things” or “life chats with farmers”?

Every trip I am so convicted of these things: social media experience vs. real life experience. After that chat with Dr. Peake, I decided to put the camera down for a few extra seconds to enjoy the rest of the week with students studying environmental education. Instead of my camera being filled with “perfectly timed images”, it was now chalk full of giggling children, tea times, and Scottish dancing. Moments like being hugged/tackled to the floor by adoring children, running around in the school yard, or finding the perfect coffee shop all came when I wasn’t obsessing over what would look the best.

Sweet moment after being tackled to the floor by laughing children.

Maybe I should be concerned with job security a little more after writing this (*cough* *cough* I’m still a communication major). However, the best photographers are the ones who can capture the authenticity of a moment, not a cookie cutter pose. So fill your mind and life with experience, put the camera down, and let those “raw captures” just happen on their own time.


More to come. Love,