Taking Photos

Last night I dreamed that I was watching what might be the greatest game of football ever.  All the best players in the world were there, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, some blond guy and lots of others I can't remember any more -- you know how quickly dream memories fade -- but I know they were great.  There were no team colors or kits, just regular workout gear, and there were no ugly fouls, no cheating or diving.  The guys were playing just for the sheer joy of the game.  The game was held in some kind of indoor arena, and the spectator area was like a parent's waiting area in a dance studio, separated from the pitch by a glass wall (hey, it's a dream, go with the flow).  Anyone could just wander in and watch.

The only catch? No photos allowed.

I felt a vague sense of frustration throughout the dream, like the inability to take photos was ruining my enjoyment of the game. It was as though I was worried I'd never remember the game, or that the game  wouldn't even exist if I didn't have photos to prove it happened.

I woke up thinking, If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one to hear it, did it even make a sound?  If I wasn't able to take a photo of an event -- or tweet that I was there, or check in and post a status update on Facebook -- was I really there?

In my defense, I was brought up by a photo-obsessed mom.  All my life my mother has been annoying friends and family with her insistence that everyone stop, gather and pose for a photo at every single gathering or event.  Most of her photos look like class photos: rows and rows of people, with only the heads visible (the front row sitting on a sofa or behind a restaurant table), with no background showing so you can't even tell where it was taken.  I personally don't like taking large group photos (5 people or less, please, so I can actually see your faces), but I'm just as bad.

I know I'm not alone, though.  I constantly see people blatantly ignoring "No photography" signs in museums where the light from camera flashes would damage precious works of art.  I constantly see people holding their phones aloft at concerts where filming is not allowed.  I know people with hundreds, even thousands of photos on their iPhones.  My Facebook stream is filled with people checking in at this restaurant or that landmark, posting photos of the concert they're attending or the hotel they're sipping mai tais at.   People are recording and broadcasting their lives on Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube.

Is that such a bad thing? Nah -- as long as you don't let the recording get in the way of enjoying.  I once blogged about dropping my obsession about videotaping The Pea's dance recitals because watching it live was so much better than watching it through the video capture monitor.  What I didn't add in that last post (I wish I could find it!) was that part of your enjoyment might come from sharing the moment with people who aren't there.  Who among us isn't grateful to the bartender who recorded Mitt Romney's "47 percent" moment?  Finally: memories fade, but disk space lasts forever.  So I'm going to keep snapping away!

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