Response to The Thrill of an Undocumented Memory

Photo by Michael Fuller.

Photo by Michael Fuller.

Anne Fuller stated, in her article “The Thrill of an Undocumented Memory,” that it is easy to become so involved in taking pictures to experience (fill in the blank) entirely through a camera lens and miss the actual. I too, dislike the feeling of having to live something for the camera, the future, my friends and family—not myself. Still, in the everyday Covenant College experience, I’d like to encourage you to take as many pictures as possible.

My dad knew a man whose house burned down. When asked what he missed most, he reported that he regretted his pictures most. Have you ever thought how much you remember because of a photo? When pictures of friends and family disappear, it can be so sad. The party, recital, or dinner may not have seemed considerable at the time, but well-photographed, it becomes a touchpoint. You recall the jokes told, the friends you saw, and the pleasant atmosphere most of all. A picture is worth a thousand words! Just one can represent so much in life.

With that in mind, we only have four years at Covenant. I have made many solid friends here, and when they or I graduate, I will likely never see them again. I would really hate to have no photos of campus as I knew it. No photos of special events. No photos of hallmates. No photos of friends. No photos of my rooms. I honestly try to take as many photos as I can—and of as many people as possible. Maybe Anne would say I live life through a camera lens. Well, I try not to, but photos are important. I don’t want to forget the good times. Besides, I sometimes remember an event all the better for the effort it took to capture, regardless of the resulting picture. Photographing can become a beautiful memory for its own sake.

I do not advise taking these photos for Instagram, Facebook, or whatever other social media site you like. My friends don’t tend to like having their pictures taken for fear of being posted online in an unartistic moment. But it’s the unposed photos that I want! Those hold the best memories for me. (Note that these photos are for me, not for the world. They record pleasant things without testifying to everyone else about what my life is.)

Be tactful though. Take pictures of people only when they don’t mind. I took a video freshman year of my hall hanging out and told a friend, who was concerned by it and commented to someone else, who also worried about it. The audio was poor, visuals were worse, I barely knew where the video was, and I didn’t (and still don’t) have or plan to get a Facebook.  However, to make my hall comfortable, I had to delete the video. Taking surprise night photos with flash didn’t go over so well either. So let your friends pose, if they must, but take every photo you may! My goal is to have so many that I will still have photos of everything if my house ever burned. I would encourage you all to do so, too.

Anne has a point: When you live through a camera lens to make everyone realize how cool your life is, you do not have fun. I also have a point: Photos are an important way of capturing memories you would be sorry to lose. I’ll let you balance the two perspectives for yourself.