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