Sometimes It’s Not About the Photograph

Look around today and you’ll see a multitude of books on mindfulness, living in the moment, finding meaning and simplifying your life. There seems to be a shift in this direction, or maybe that’s what I see everywhere because my life is shifting in this direction. The things I have lived through during the past four+ years have led me to radically change my values and the pursuit of a simpler and more meaningful life has become my focus (no pun intended).

For many photographers, the pursuit of the image becomes an obsession. They amass Terabytes of data in search of the images that will win awards, sell prints or bring some other form of recognition. In the book A Beautiful Anarchy, David duChemin speaks much more eloquently than I ever could about the issue and why creating any type of art for the sole purpose of external validation is a futile pursuit. The fact is, sometimes you don’t get that shot – it’s out of focus, poorly lit or badly timed. But if you’re fully present in that moment and enjoyed the fact that you were able to witness whatever it was you were there for, then nothing is wasted. Sometimes living the experience, without the great photograph to show for it, can be just as important.

A couple of weeks ago I met up with a few friends at the San Diego Zoo and even though I had my camera the point of the visit, for me, was to see the animals and have a good time. We walked around to the different exhibits and saw lots of animals. What made my day, however, happened by pure chance. As we came around a corner there was a zoo keeper bringing a white wolf out for a hike. A WOLF!!!!! I was so excited. I have never seen one that close; let alone on a leash! He was a gorgeous creature and I was mesmerized. On the inside I was squealing with excitement like a teenage girl at a boy band concert.

That moment alone was enough.

Yes, I took photos. They’re not that exciting (see below). But I really don’t care. I was there and I got to see him and that is worth much more to me than any image I could have taken. And that’s really the point to this blog post – sometimes it’s not about the photograph.

A handful of images of the wolf I saw that day.
A handful of images of the wolf I saw that day.