Originally published on The Odyssey Online on 9/14/15.
As I sat on my balcony in my hotel room in Menaggio, Italy, I took in the colorful landscape behind my iPhone. I was capturing a panorama of the Italian sunset in front me. Lago di Como is the kind of place you see for the month of June on a calendar. The skyline is formed by snow capped mountains and backlit by splashes of bright blues. The lake is crystal clear and sparkling. The seaside villages along the leg-shaped coast are straight from a storybook. I left my vacation with over a thousand photos on my iPhone.
Everyone is a photographer these days, thanks to smartphone accessibility. High quality and high megapixel cameras are always in our pockets and purses. Gone are the days when we must purposefully lug around a camera if we want to capture a moment. Not only do we have portable phone-cameras, but we have all the tools to easily edit our photos and share them on social media. With the click of a few buttons, our followers could be peeking in on our vacations and experiences real time. Is our camera accessibility distracting us from being in the moment?
It can be hard to find a balance between snapping photos and enjoying the present. Pictures and videos can remind us of our travels, our dinners, time with loved ones and friends. Pictures can capture emotion and beauty and simplicity. What pictures can not capture, however, is the exact feeling that overcame you at the moment you clicked the capture button.
At least once a week since I came home, I happily flip through the photo-book I created after my vacation to Italy. I’m happy I have the photos I do, both posed and candid, but I wish I had spent a few less minutes trying to snap the perfect sunset photo from every angle rather than capturing it in my mind.