Okay, it might be blasphemy to write this for a photography website. The other night, on a beautiful spring evening, I took Jupiter the dog for a little walk before dinner. I wanted to enjoy that prime space between winter and full-on spring. I usually grab a camera, even when it’s for a quick walk, but this night I deliberately left the camera behind. The time had just changed, and so we had that extra hour of daylight that all of the clock-switching nonsense aims for. We walked past the neighborhood park and turned onto a wide sidewalk trail heading east. The huge full moon was just rising and peeking out over the houses and tree line. It was absolutely gorgeous, beautiful reds and oranges reflecting the sunset hues in the opposite sky. I paused, and so did Jupiter.
If I had planned for it, we would have been in just the right spot for some moon rise shots not even a half mile from home. Instead, I stood there and watched the moon come up over the horizon. Jupiter sniffed around and then we walked around a bit more before heading home to make spaghetti. In those few moments, I didn’t miss my camera (even though I love having a camera). It felt nice to just sit there in the middle of the path and marvel at the moon so close. I didn’t even have my phone, because I also think it’s wonderful to be completely untethered at times. I could just stand there, and I wasn’t futzing about trying to find the best angle, or pulling at Jupiter because where he wanted to smell wasn’t where I wanted to take a picture.
I just watched the moon. I wasn’t thinking about capturing the moment, or wishing that I had my camera. I had just a couple of minutes of quiet, of appreciation, and the immense beauty of an ordinary night with the full moon before me. I got to bask in the light and take a few deep breaths before turning around.
I don’t remember exactly what was on my mind during that walk, but I know that I was thinking about the moon and having a lovely time of being exactly where I was at the moment. I wasn’t thinking about the future, or looking at a screen, or peeping through a view finder. I was looking at the moon, and for that slice of time, that is all there was: the moon, a path, a dog, and me.
Sometimes, it’s groovy to just leave the camera behind. You don’t have to take pictures all the time. For a lot of us, even when we don’t have our cameras, we will grab our phones and use that handy little pocket camera (which by the way, can also be a useful photography tool) to grab the image, the moment. It felt freeing, and even a bit novel, to just stand and look up without something between the moon and me. For those of us who love photography, it’s hard to set aside time to just wander, look, and ponder without a camera. The temptation is to always have a camera with me, but sometimes I like going against the grain (film, or not). I enjoy creating those small moments of freedom, by intentionally leaving my camera and phone at home. In this world of lots and lots of screens, it’s harder to find those pockets of time, but we can definitely create them for ourselves.
The next time you’re about to slip a camera in your pocket, think about leaving it behind for that walk, that hike, that bike ride. Look up, look down, look all around, and see how it feels to just see without the need for film or a sensor to capture something. Know that this moment will never come again, and in the magnificent or the mundane that is all you need.
By Kary Schumpert
Kary keeps a blog at running-into-life.com and can be found on Instagram at @running_into_life. She teaches, writes, runs, plays with cameras, and spends her time in New Mexico and Colorado.
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