words to live by: it's yours
positive change: kind over matter

a picture's worth a present moment

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"Photography takes an instant out of time, 
altering life by holding it still."

Dorothea Lange

 

All my life I've loved two things fiercely: words and photographs. The words have always been at the forefront of my life, taking precedence over nearly everything else, but the photographs have always been there in the background, inspiring me more than I realized. Looking back on my childhood, I see all of the hours I spent snapping pictures with friends, carefully storing photos in albums, and spending afternoons locked up in my room with a stack of magazines, cutting out image after image. 

It's only over the past year or so that I've realized just how much photos impact my life. I spend a great deal of time searching for the perfect photo for a post -- and it's one of my favorite things to spend time doing. As a result, I spend an abnormal amount of time on Tumblr (Check it out here: http://positivelypresent.tumblr.com/) searching through photo after photo after photo. And I love every moment of it. Just as I loved flipping through magazines as a child, eagerly looking for a beautiful image or inspiring words to cut out and add to my collection, on Tumblr I find myself searching for those beautiful, moving things that, for just a moment, can take me into that moment that someone else experienced. 

What I find most thrilling about photographs -- both those I take and those I observe -- is that they focus only on a moment, a single precious moment. Living in the present moment is difficult, something I struggle with nearly every moment. My mind is often flooded with images from the past and doused by worries about the future so finding those moments when I can be completely and utterly present is always amazing. 

Photography is one of the best tools I've found for staying in the moment. When I grab one of my cameras (especially my new Fiji Instax Mini, which I'm in love with!) and head out to take some photos, I know without a doubt that I'll be staying present. And when I find myself on Tumblr searching for photos, I know I'll be in the moment whenever I spot an image that truly moves me. Here are some of the ways you can use photography in your own life to stay in the moment.


Using Photography To Stay Present 


1. Grab your camera and go outside. Seems obvious enough, but how often do you really reach for your camera when it's not a special occasion? Most of us feel the need for a reason to take out the camera, but that's just not necessary. No matter where you live, what you're in the middle of doing, there's always something you can capture a picture of. And, really, you don't even have to go outside! Look around you... I bet there's something right near by that would make a great photo. 
 

2. Visit a photography exhibit near you. This week it's FotoWeek in Washington, DC, where I live. Sadly I've missed out on the festivities, but the coming of FotoWeek has reminded me that there are so many great photography exhibits and museums near me that I should take advantage of. And if you don't live in an exhibit-filled city like DC, don't despair! There are often exhibits at local community centers, schools, and libraries that are sure to be filled with inspiring images. 
 

3. Search for great pics online. Alright, alright, I know this seems like it's just another plug for my beloved Tumblr -- but honestly there are some amazing things to be found on there. Of course, you have to find inspiring people to follow, but once you do that, you'll find that it's one of the best resources for finding beautiful, impassioned photos. I've also provided a list of great sites at the end of the post and I'd highlight recommend checking those out as well. 


4. Flip through some magazines or books. I know with the onset of online magazines and ebooks, we have fewer things to flip through with our hands, but there are still so many great photographs in magazines and books and they are always a great place to fall into the moment of a single image. Often holding something in your hands gives it even more realness and it's that sense of reality that will allow you to be even more present in that moment. 
 

5. Take daily pictures of one item in your life. I've always wanted to do this, but haven't yet tried it. I've heard of people taking a picture a day of one specific thing -- what they ate for breakfast, what they wore, their pets -- and keeping all of the images to see what they ate/wore/saw over the course of time. Most people wouldn't want to take on this project since it sounds time-consuming, but how long does it really take to snap a photo? If you're looking for an inspiring photo-based project, this idea is a great one. 

 

In my opinion, cameras are pretty amazing tools for keeping us in the moment. Even when you are reflecting back on old images, you'll find yourself lost in a specific moment. And even when you're looking at others images, you can find yourself in someone else's moment. If, like me, you struggle to stay present from time to time, take a closer look at your camera and see if you might be able to find some inspiration there. And For some truly inspiring photographs, check out these sites: 
 

Art Pixie

Color Me Katie 

Constantly Evolving

Daydream Lily

Here Comes the Sun

Happily Ever After Now

Pugly Pixel

Comments

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I think photography is beautiful. Where you can take a memory and hold it forever more in the hands of a grand daughter who never got to see her mother , when she was 16 or seven teen. Laughs propagate and giggles grumble underneath the false breath of sincerity. Time stops when you take a picture. It's truly wondrous. Great post.

I always get so excited when I can take a picture and perfectly capture the feeling of that moment in the image. It's not always easy - but it's such a great feeling!

I've done the picture a day thing, but I didn't restrict it to one specific thing. The first time I tried it I only lasted a month but the second time around I got through to April (started on Jan 1). It's amazing to see the simple moments of life progress through the year. Definitely recommend it to everybody!

This is an interesting post. For me it's drawing. I find I haven't really seen something until I've tried to draw it.

I could spend hours online looking at photos. I love imagery! In fact, I've been wanting to take a photography class so I can learn more than pointing and clicking, but along with writing my other true passion is music, so instead, I am taking a guitar class. But someday... someday!

Jonathan - It's true that it's amazing how you can hold a memory with a photograph. Time stops and you're able to really focus on one particular moment.

Molly - I get that same feeling of excitement -- even when I'm just looking at an image that has captured a feeling!

Dani - Thanks for sharing your experience! It sounds like you had a good experience with taking a picture a day. I think I'm going to have to start that project January 1st!

Stephanie - I wish I had that drawing talent of yours! It's amazing when someone can draw something and capture a moment or a feeling.

Melissa - I love imagery too! Like you, I've always wanted to take a photography class but haven't yet gotten around to it. Good for you for taking the guitar class though! I once got a guitar but never actually learned how to play it, haha.

I love photography, there is something so magical about it. I love trawling through photos on the internet, there so inspiring. I've decided that I'm going to do the 365 project next year, I figure starting on the first day of the year is the way to go.

Zoya - I agree. There is certainly some magic behind the lens of a photograph. The 365 project is a great way to find inspiration on a daily basis. I think I'm going to give it a shot too!

I too love photography. It is a challenge to try to get a good image because my mind's eye takes in so much. I like the challenge of trying to capture the essence of a moment. I did a digital camera workshop at the all day Al-Anon meeting about a month ago. It was a lot of fun. People who were too intimidated to do digital actually got some decent photos and seemed to be thrilled at taking some decent shots.

Syd - That's a good point. Sometimes it can be really hard to get the right picture when you can see so much more in things than a camera lens can. That workshop you participated in sounds like it was a great experience! It's always cool when people experience something they didn't anticipate.

Beautiful, beautiful post. I feel much the same. Words + photos = bliss!

Kristal - So happy you could relate to this post! It's one of my favorites because it's a recent realization how much photos (and words with them!) mean to me. Thanks for stopping by PP and taking the time to comment.

Photography is a great hobby but can not be used as a tool to stay in present. It stops you to enjoy the present moment. Also, it is an attempt to store the present moment in some form to get back to it later.

The article definitely speaks about your great passion for photography. Just try it the other way; be 100% present while taking photographs. If you truly live the experience you will not feel the need to re-live the experience.

Capturing and using the photographs for inspiration and other such purposes later is a great idea. This includes professional reasons as well.

Thanks for relating this great hobby to the present moment :-)

Grvgl - Thanks so much for the comment! You bring up an excellent point about trying to be 100% present when taking photos. It's the best way to really get the best image and to fully absorb the moment.

i, like you, spend a great deal of my time wrapped up in my pictures and words. i agree that photography is a great way to see the present, but sometimes it can also make me miss the moment since i am so caught up in capturing what is going on around me.

i've been slowing down over the past few months after 5 non stop years traveling. and as i sort through my photos, i have found another thing that i love immensely about one of my dearest friends, my camera. i love her ability to capture the positive. it's funny, i've been going through some of my past adventures and reliving bits and pieces of the past. and you know, even some of the places that i know i didn't enjoy while i was there, that i even would say i found absolutely and positively miserable, somehow looking back i see it all so differently. i see an unbias, beautiful and refreshing glimpse of this place i thought i had fully experienced.

let's take tokyo for instance. i was there for 2 months and though i know while i was there i was miserable alot of the time. the monsoon rains everyday, the indesribable feeling of being overwhelmed by the language barrier and vast area of the city, feeling so dependent on others, living alone and feeling so lonely, possibly the loneliest i had ever experienced in my young life. but now, 2 and a half years later, i look back through my photos and i see a different place than i saw at the time. i admire my camera's ability to capture the beauty that is there in the everyday, in the routine, in the 'mundane'. she sees no mundane. she crystalises the beauty that is lurking all around me and documents it for another day when i am ready to see it all a bit differently.

it's a nice little treat to know i always have a companion with an always positive frame of mind.
thanks for sharing and inspiring :* x
nadine

Nadine - Thank you for your wonderful comment! I really appreciate your words. You make a great point about how sometimes photographing things can actually take us away from the moment and, instead of enjoying it, we think about how to get the best shot. This is definitely something to keep in mind when taking pictures. And you made another great point on how looking back at photos can change the way we look at that time in our lives. The camera can capture the good when there are times that we just cannot. I'm so happy you shared your photo-taking experiences here. Thank you for coming by!

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