A Moment in Time, Frozen for the Future

How to be present and intentional in capturing moments in time through photography, and what top mistakes to avoid.

Today I got to hug my 18 year old daughter, Eden, for the first time in over a year. It was amazing to see her back home here in Fiji after all of her adventures. She flew from Fiji to Papua to finish high school last December, stayed on to teach art at the school, and then (due to vaccine and re-entry requirements), had to fly around the other side of the world via the USA in order to return home this December, completing her circumnavigation of the globe. 

. . . 

I still remember the day Eden was born, when she first looked at me with her tiny blue eyes. I remember the precocious 2 year old who grew up on a remote island in the South Pacific, riding a boat to and from town, looking for mermaids and dolphins. She hunted for guavas and soursops in the jungle, and any living creature she could find. I remember moving to town. . . the school years. . .the difficult middle years, crowned by the awe of seeing her grow into the talents and beauty of who God created her to be. 

Since Eden grew up in Fiji, we had a lot of beautiful photo opportunities, but I love the “ordinary” everyday photos just as much as the shots captured in places of epic beauty.

If you’re like me (with a really bad memory!) it’s the photos that bring back the memories. Even looking back at my childhood, it’s the people and places that I have photos of that are best preserved in my mind and memory. I want this for my kids, too, because goodness knows they’ve had a pretty epic upbringing here in Fiji, even though it all seems normal to them now.

How can we freeze these moments? What is the magic formula?  

It’s simple. Be present and intentional.

First of all, be present. Being present is an important skill to master in life. It enriches our lives and the lives of those around us. 

If we’re stuck in the past, we miss out on the moment that is happening right in front of us. Conversely, if we’re always looking towards that elusive perfect moment somewhere in the future, we miss out on what the present has to give us as well.

Distractions are also constantly pulling us away from the ideal of being present in the moment. But we don’t have to let them win. Being present is a gift both to yourself and to the people you love. Put down your phone, leave your work at the desk, and focus on the moment and the people around you.

Look them in the eye. Notice what makes them unique. Appreciate what they bring to the family, or to the group. Tell them! Surround them with love. Take the plunge and be authentic, in the moment, and breathe it all in.

Now, you may be wondering how this fits in with photography! Didn’t I just tell you to put down your phone? 

This is where intentionality comes in.  There are two common errors:

  1. Error #1:  The Social Media Addict:  This person captures absolutely everything that happens, basically seeing life only through their phone. They are thinking primarily of what other people will think, instead of figuring out what they think. They post their photos and videos immediately, instead of being present with those around them. They can’t resist checking in often to see how many likes their posts are receiving, and they base the importance of that moment on other people’s approval. 
  1. Error #2: The Hands-Off Avoider: This person is good at being in the moment. They may secretly judge the social media addict above. They rationalize that they don’t want to “mess up” a perfectly good moment by taking a photo. A little bit of laziness could be at play here. It’s easier to relax than it is to stand up, get creative, and capture a moment. This person waits for someone else to do it, or figures they will do it “later.” They decide that they’ll get those photos sometime in the fuzzy future when they have their life “together,” maybe when the living room is painted, the mess is picked up, and the laundry folded (spoiler alert: this magic moment just never happens). 

Which one do you most relate to? The good news is that there’s a third choice: 

  1. The Intentional Photographer:  This person knows when to pick up their camera/phone, and when to put it down. They are present in life. They choose their moments carefully. They capture candid moments, curate them (keep the good ones), and cherish them. They may post on social media, but they don’t necessarily do it right that moment. Instead, they participate and interact with the people and moments around them, and then post a curated selection later (if they want to). They are able to separate their worth and the worth of that moment from how many “likes” their post receives. They share in order to connect with others, rather than to fill some kind of hole or need in their psyche. 

I hope that option number three sounds appealing to you and that you will join me in this approach in photographing the memories you have with loved ones and life around you. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go spend some time with Eden. Maybe I’ll post about it later!  ~ Laura

Categories: Family Photography, Inspiration, Life inspiration, Photography, Photography Education, Photography inspiration, Portrait Photography