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Capturing Vacation

In the middle of the Mitzvahmoon, I walked down to the water with my phone and filmed the waves for a minute.  I thought I would put it on a loop and then upload a half hour version to Youtube so I could let it run while I worked once we were back home.  Feel like I’m at the beach.  But then I got home and didn’t have time to actually complete the task.  So much for bringing the vacation home.

The New York Times had an article about the optimal length of a vacation, and research puts it at eight days.  I mean, you can go beyond eight days, but the average person receives most of the benefits in the first eight days and loses them within one day back at work.  One day.  That’s all you get.

I actually read the article because of the Mitzvahmoon video: this idea that we can remember and revisit the vacation through photos when we get home.  It’s sort of true in my experience — ChickieNob and I love to sit with albums, remembering trips, and I carry about a dozen pictures of Chincoteague on my phone and look at them when I’m feeling stressed.  But this thought jumped out at me from the piece:

My patient had no pictures or videos to show me, just a sharp and indelible memory that e carried with him. And that I suspect is key to a great and long-lasting vacation: He allowed himself to be open to the unforeseen and immersed in his experience … It made me wonder whether in the attempt to record and preserve our pleasure, we become observers of our experience rather than full participants in it.

“Preserve our pleasure” — I love that because why else would I point my camera at a random stretch of ocean?  It’s to try to capture the wonder we felt staring at the water while it exploded into tumultuous waves due to a hurricane still several days away and the relaxation it brought to stare at sea foam instead of a computer screen for a few hours.

At the same time, it wasn’t a profound enough thought that I’d ever leave my camera at home because I love looking at the pictures when I get home.  But it was definitely food for thought.  When am I taking a picture I’ll use in the future, and when am I taking a picture just because I think I should take a picture?

Do you look at your vacation photos enough to make them worth taking?

7 comments

1 Beth { 09.27.17 at 7:29 am }

I look at the pictures of my kids enjoying themselves on vacation and that makes me happy. I wouldn’t trade that. But the point is well taken in everyday life – I have two particular family members who are so intent on documenting every single moment with video or photos that they rarely participate or just sit down and play with my kids. Every time I witness this I think, there has to be a balance.
Because what they are preserving is someone else’s joy, someone else’s memories. And while that is lovely, wouldn’t it also be lovely to be a part of the joy?

2 a { 09.27.17 at 7:56 am }

The first time I went to Italy, it was before digital cameras. I had nine rolls of film from before I left the camera in a taxi halfway through our trip. (Mom was not happy – it was her camera.) But my friend and I were having a great time – the photos were part of the experience. I look at the glass factory photos and think of Roberto, who wanted my friend to send him some nudes for future sculptures.

I do think people probably take more pictures than they need to now. But I’d rather have too many than too few.

3 Cristy { 09.27.17 at 8:22 am }

Two thoughts emerged from this.
1) there’s a lot of data that shows effective assessments (exams, quizzes, etc) come when they are shorter, but more frequent. I wonder if the same thing holds true for vacations? Meaning instead of one chunk of a break, push for 5-8 day stretches more frequently.
2) I’m one of those weird people who hates taking pictures. I find the act forced, interrupting what I otherwise find pleasurable. The memories I form, though not 100% accurate in details, stay with me and allow me to daydream or meditate when I need a break. It’s interesting this idea that by recording, we become observers vs participants. Making me wonder if we’re firing different parts of the brain when doing one vs the other.

4 Sharon { 09.27.17 at 2:09 pm }

I take some photos on vacation but I don’t go overboard because first of all, my sons don’t want to pose for them (and I suck at getting good candid shots), and second of all, I want to enjoy my vacation and be in the moment and feel that taking a lot of photos takes away from that to a degree.

On a tangential note, I can’t even remember the last time I had a vacation of 8 days or more. How sad is that? No wonder I am so exhausted and stressed out.

5 torthuil { 09.27.17 at 10:41 pm }

I like the photos but I do think it’s the feelings and experiences that matter the most. I still think of our spring vacation last year and it makes me very happy, not because of photos but memories and the attitude I developed.

6 Mali { 09.28.17 at 7:45 pm }

“Do you look at your vacation photos enough to make them worth taking?” Yes. And the pictures can take me back to the feelings, the sights and sounds. I can sometimes feel them calming me.

And I’ve had a post brewing on this issue for ages. I think you’re going to prompt me to finally write it.

7 loribeth { 10.09.17 at 8:39 pm }

I love taking photos, & the advent of digital photography & (especially) cellphone cameras has made it both easy to take reasonably high-quality photos AND not worry about where to keep them all (except maybe in terms of hard drive space). I do take lots of photos, of vacations & everything else — and yes, I do spend time going back to look through them. (As a said above, I’d rather have too many than too few.) But sometimes you do need to just put down the camera & be in the moment. Or hand over the camera to someone else to make sure you are in the photos too! (And yes, you DO need to be in the photos too! — someday, your kids will thank you for it!)

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