We’ve all done it. A big event comes along like an air display, steam train special through our area, kid’s graduation from college, and what are we doing? Probably missing much of it by staring through our viewfinders or clicking our camera phones trying to get a great shot. And we don’t just take one, we usually take a whole bunch, or even capture the whole event on video. And afterwards, what memories do we have of the actual event? Probably not as many as if we had just left the camera down and took in the atmosphere of the event without it.
Recently, a PBY5A Catalina flying boat made a tour of Britain giving displays at venues around the country as part of the Circuit of Britain 100th Anniversary. I hadn’t seen one before so I decided to go along to the nearest display which happened to be at Cromarty (Ross-shire, Scotland). It was pretty well attended, and when I arrived, many folk were already there parked along the seafront, windbreaks erected all waiting for the event. And we weren’t disappointed. We were all treated to a wonderful 15 minute display across blue skies. I took 10 photos and 3 videos on my trusty old Canon Powershot compact camera. But after the event, I just got the feeling that perhaps I should have taken fewer photos and videos and just watched and listened as the Catalina majestically circled around.
It’s happened to me before on many occasions. Last year at another air display, we were all treated to a low level flypast by a Boeing B-52 bomber. I took three photos as it made its solitary pass. None of the photos are worth showing here, and I don’t have much of a memory of the event.
Of course, on your kid’s graduation, you have to get a shot of the scroll being handed over. I tried on two separate occasions, positioned by the side wall so as not to obstruct anyone’s view and ended up with blurry photos in a dark hall and would have been much better just to have put the camera down and enjoyed the occasion.
Don’t get me wrong, if photography is your hobby and you have all the proper equipment, try to get that great shot, but for most of us, worrying about getting it right with our camera phone or compact camera is probably going to detract from the enjoyment you should be getting from the event. If you must, try taking just one or two shots and then just put the camera down. Anyway, chances are that before you get home, there will be plenty of photos of the event up on Flickr, Twitter and Facebook and videos on YouTube.