Did you know that there is such a thing as a "photo-taking impairment effect?" I recently read some research by Linda Henkle, a psychology professor at Fairfield University, suggesting that taking photos of something can actually impair you from remembering said event - which, as a wedding photographer, really surprised me.
But then, at my next wedding, I paid attention to guests and family members at the wedding and recognized so many people who were essentially living through their camera phones - recording a toast, but watching it through their phone. Ready to take a photo of the first kiss, and watching it through their phone instead of being present and active in the moment they were in. Ever since then, watching a mother of the bride, bridesmaid, grandfather, friend, or whoever else watching a wedding day unfold through their phone has made me rethink the importance of my job. I realized then that as a wedding photographer, I get to help other people actually LIVE in the moment, and STILL get to remember it later - which is such a beautiful way to serve people!
And of course, this applies to more than just wedding photography. Parents - having photos of your kids is so important, but being there for them and engaged in whatever they're doing, encouraging them along the way, is even MORE important. Kids will remember how present you were... or how distracted you were by your phone.
The same goes for anyone, really - on vacation, are you more concerned with taking photos to remember the trip, or are you spending the majority of your time actually making memories and being present in whatever you're doing?
I recently found myself photographing a beeeeeautiful destination wedding on Mackinac Island in Michigan, and while I was SO excited to take photos of my beautiful couple in such a stunning location, I found myself hesitant to bring my camera with me on my off-day. Typically, if I'm in a new place for the first time, I LOVE to document what I see so I can remember and share it. But my husband said an off -the-cuff comment as we were getting ready to head into town that made me rethink my packing list for the day: "I just want to be present with you today." WHOA. Right then and there, I was reminded of all of the moments I've missed because I was too busy hiding behind my camera. So, hesitantly, I pulled my camera out of my bag and left it sitting on a chair in our hotel room. And let me tell you - that day spent fully present with my husband was one of the BEST gifts I could've given to our marriage. We laughed, we walked, and we soaked in that time together, being fully present with each other and with our surroundings.
I'm no expert (I mean, I'm still a photographer to my core!), but I want to challenge you to do the same.
If you're a guest, friend, bridesmaid, groomsman, or family member at a wedding, my suggestion is to allow yourself to enjoy it - fully - without a phone in hand. Wherever you go, even if you bring your camera or your phone or whatever you use to document our life, be sure to take the time to actually live those moments. Be a part of those memories. Laugh, cry, shout, clap, and take the time to take it all in ❤️