Something I didn’t think about until recently was taking photos.
Okay, not completely. If you know me, I just love taking pictures and snapping random shots whenever I can. Ever since I had access to a camera, I was taking photographs of everything: friends, random cityscapes, random plants I thought were aesthetically pleasing. I took photos of pretty much everything except for one thing: myself.
There was some tweet I saw about how people who are in quarantine looking through their photos and out of nowhere, you realize that you don’t have photos with your closest friends. Like you may have some here and there with friends that you enjoy spending time with, but with the people you spend the most face time with, you have very few to none of those photos. When I read that all in a short, 240 character statement, did I feel personally attacked? Absolutely! I felt crappy and didn’t know how to process all of the comments and ideas that were floating in my head when I saw something that was so abruptly on point about my life.
For a person who always was looking to take great photos of everything else going on around me, I almost thought that I didn’t matter enough to take photos of things that involved me in the frame. I don’t have many selfies, and never really asked many people to take photos of me and my friends. I don’t know where this came from, especially since I was always willing to do this for other friends. Sometimes it felt like I would be asking too much from someone, or that by doing it I would be labeled as selfish or narcissistic. I cared too much about how I was perceived instead of thinking about just trying to do something I just felt like was something cool to look back upon.
There was this sort of weird rationale I came up in my head too that me choosing to take a photo with a friend would take away from the face to face moments I was having. It would somehow sap any sort of present-ness that there was in our interactions and would become a habit that I would not be able to address. I felt like me telling someone “Hey! Let’s take this super dope photo!” would take away from my ability to be the present and be the friend that wasn’t the one to always ask for a pic or stop to take a pic. No shade to anyone who does that, but I was just afraid that this would become the only thing I would care about. And so, for much of the past few years, that was my mindset.
In hindsight, I was just wrong.
In some aspects, I can acknowledge that it was good in the part that I wasn’t focused on taking photos of myself all the time. It allowed me to think about everything I was doing at the moment. I would be focused on having thorough conversations with my peers and making sure to appreciate every moment I had to just be with them. That was something I could and still admire.
But, that doesn’t mean I have to function in absolutes. I can still capture something and still return to whatever else I’m doing. I can still do that.
I can still enjoy life, be present at the moment, and still have the awareness to take a photo if I want to. I can be present in being comfortable just sharing my passion for photography with my friends. Is it still going to be sort of awkward to ask? Yeah. But do I still wanna at least get to see the growth I have with my friends? Without question. In quarantine, I remember all of the conversations I had with all of the people close to me, but I never thought to just pull out my camera and capture things that I knew would be special. I know it may mess with the flow of things here and there, but I also know that there isn’t anything more fun than just sharing some photos with the people you care about when they didn’t remember it happened. That’s the power of photography.
For the last few weeks of school and the past two months in quarantine, I’ve made more of a conscious effort to take my camera everywhere. I may not take a photo that day, but I wanna just open my eyes more, pay attention to my surroundings, and give myself something to be excited about every day. I have something fun to explore the world through, and I’m just more excited than ever to try to become a better photographer.
Being Noah Tesfaye #131: My Relationship with Taking Photos
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