Don't Capture This Moment

May 8, 2024

7/13 2:10:46 UTC
NightDay
IRL vs URL

We’ve got to admit that when we step out in nature or pretty much anywhere, the impulse to capture the moment is so internalised that it is now all but unremarkable. As cameras have dissolved into phones and the virtual and real worlds have smooshed together, the concept of it being a mediated experience has all but vanished.

A decade back, psychologist Linda Henkel coined the term the “photo-taking-impairment effect”, proving our collective dawning that taking photographs gets in the way of our brain’s natural ability to experience and remember. More recently, researchers from the University of Santa Cruz confirmed Henkel’s findings, discovering that the effect persists even when people take multiple photographs. There’s a bit of nuance to this study, as there is regarding the reasons for said effect. However, the takeaway is clear: if you photograph rather than look, you’ll experience and remember less. 

So, as with most ways of living, there’s a trade-off. However, it’s not so much the trade-off that’s the problem as the awareness that a trade-off is being made. In this case, we are putting an object — technology — between ourselves and the world. 

What is technology? A simple definition is “the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes or applications.” 

But before ‘technology,’ the Ancient Greeks conceptualised it more like ‘art’ or ‘craft’ (‘tekhne’), where the craftsperson, rather than being the ultimate source of creation, helps something [material] come into being.           

Capturing the moment can, of course, be magical. But ironically, that is the very thing that is lost: one cannot both be in and capture the moment. In this orientation, we risk being unable to see the world beyond being simply raw material endlessly supplying our needs. 

So this is a prompt: go out in the world and don’t capture it! There is a downside. The moment will exist once and nevermore. There is an upside:  the one time it exists - in the present, the only time it can truly exist - you will get a shot at experiencing it to the fullest!

PS

Poignantly conveying the theme of this essay, Eric Pickersgill photoshopped away the smartphones and digital devices from his portraits of everyday life. The project “Removed” aims to show our addiction to modern technology, social media, and hyper-connectivity. Pickersgill knows that he’s also amongst the addicted. We recommend you check it out.

PPS

The irony of writing about not capturing the moment and posting imagery about it alongside it is not lost on us. These images were taken by Hannah Bailey on a trip to Scotland, where we intended to scale a Munro; on of the Five Sisters of Kintail. Here are some of the outtakes that we haven't used yet. The breathtaking feeling of the landscape is best experienced and not photographed, though Hannah did an amazing job capturing this!