A camera lens and your eye are quite similar. The way they open, interpret light and manage colors. I think though, that my eyes are more like a lens than your average person. You see, I perceive the world in camera angles. This of course is a side effect of my career as a photographer but not necessarily a detrimental one. It’s simply how I see. As I walk I’ll place a camera in my mind, allow my eyes to become the aperture and immortalize the scene as pixels in my head.
This, however, doesn’t hold as an absolute. Over time, I’ve come to understand that there are moments that I’ll try to mentally printed on canvas but quickly realize that it’s impossible. About two weeks ago my wonderful girlfriend and I were sitting on a bench overlooking the Hudson River at night. We’d just enjoyed the succulent tastes of a Shake Shack burger and were currently slurping up the final dregs of our peanut butter chocolate milk shake. I couldn’t have coded the weather app to show a better forecast than what that moment presented. It was silent, but the good silence where you know everything is ok. I looked to my left. Kristen had her right hand on my shoulder and held the milkshake in the other. New Jersey speckled the dark sky with square stars. The street lamp 5 feet behind lit her silhouette with a warm glow that reminded me of a halo. She leaned over and kissed my cheek. In that moment, I tried to take a picture but the pixels wouldn’t have it. There isn’t a lens on this planet that would have done it justice. As I walked home that night, I wondered why? What made that moment uncapturable?
As a photographer, my aim is to capture beauty. Yes, I know that’s a loaded and relative word but that’s why artists have the freedom of interpretation. We try our best to represent a moment through a specific medium and express all five senses to the viewer. Unfortunately, no viewer will every fully understand what that artist experienced. There are simply things a photo can’t capture. Beauty has aspects that can’t be seen. The beauty of character. The beauty of a calming word. Or the feel of a slightly cool breeze that beckons two people to inch closer together. Often these things I can’t even express verbally let alone through a 22.1 megapixel camera.
Nowadays, there are cameras that cost upwards of $500,000. You speak of 8k images and unparalleled advances in 3D technology. I’m no stranger to this. A buddy of mine and I have a constant text thread of "geek out" moments when a new “thing” is released. But this is all rendered moot when I experience a second like I did two weeks ago. For me, I take it as a blessing and also a challenge. A blessing because those moments have no price tag and will never pixelate. It’s etched in my mind and I couldn’t fully explain it to you if my name was Merriam Webster. But also a challenge to put my camera down and see the world without the adulteration of an eyepiece. To use all my senses, take a beat and suck the marrow out of life.
There will always be breathtaking photos and hopefully I’ll be able to take some of them. But nothing can or will ever compare to the experienced moments that a creative far greater than myself continually blesses me with. For that, I’ll turn my camera off any day.