These are the days of the Momarazzi and the Popparazzi. How many times have I sat at some event of my own kids and ended up watching half of what they were doing through a screen because I was trying to capture the moment? It’s so easy to do…too easy, in fact. It’s left me to consider, in trying to preserve these moments, aren’t we sort of missing them? Doesn’t it kind of take us out of the moment when we are the photographer first, and the participant second? And what’s the answer? I like to just be, sometimes, and it seems like all of this technology works against me. A snake in the grass that just sits and waits to take me away from the present. I love it, but sometimes I really hate it too.
There has never before been an era of parents who were literally always armed and ready to go with a camera, in whatever situation. Good, bad, funny, tragic, ordinary, we usually are equipped to take the shot if we want it. Bulbs flash like it’s the Academy Awards when our kids pet a dog or jump on a trampoline. Parents before us haven’t dealt with trying to achieve the right balance. This is our cross to bare. We want great photos, but I assume most of us don’t want to miss out on being active participants in our own lives while trying to get them. There seems to be a fine line in finding that place. That sweet spot where you feel like you got what you needed to preserve your memories, but your technology didn’t steal your chance to actually be there.
I looked at my own phone and saw that I have taken 490 photos in the past seven months, and reasoned that 95 percent of them are of my kids. I considered how long it would have taken my own parents to accrue 500 photos of me growing up. I think it’s fair to say it honestly could have been the entire time I was under their roof, very possibly the whole of my childhood. Nowadays, an enthusiastic mom or dad could easily get that many in the course of one weeklong vacation. We don’t have to physically go to a store and buy film, think about how many photos we may want to take, and then ration our shots accordingly. Instead, we can snap, snap, snap away until we get carpal tunnel if we want to. It seems to be a little bit of a blessing and a curse scenario. Another distraction in a life already packed to the gills with things that prevent us from living in the moment.
I try hard to find that sweet spot. It’s a work in progress. Sometimes my kids let me know if I’ve gone to the dark side and I’m annoying them with an over-zealous photo session. They roll their eyes or refuse to smile, and I try to put myself in their small shoes and think about how over-documented all of our lives are these days. They are right to be annoyed. It can be so intrusive at times, even if that’s not the intention. That’s a time where I can actually appreciate an eye roll. It snaps me back to reality, it breaks the alluring spell of the Momarazzi and brings me back into the moment. It brings me back to living in the present the way that Marty McFly and I can understand. We both fight hard to be there because we know how much there is to miss once it’s left behind.