Photography enhances the experience of traveling, but not always

Summer is the time to travel, relax and, of course, document all the glamour of our vacation away from the mundane everyday stress on social media. As the most touristic places in the world get cramped with masses of people with their phone cameras pointing around, we migh ask ourselves one question: can we enjoy traveling as much when we are seeing everything from behind a camera?


Visiting a place with the intention of taking pictures forces you to pay more attention to all the details in the landscape, the people around you, the lighting, the athmosphere… so all those intense stimules are much more likely to stay in your memory after you leave that place. In her TED talk (which you can watch here), photographer and writer Erin Sulivan recalls the time when she was working with Kristin Diehl and her colleagues at USC, after several studies on photo-taking's effect on enjoyment levels had found that photography increases how much we can enjoy an experience. But that is not the case when we take the photo for the sole purpose of sharing it.“Sometimes [the camera] can feel like a block between you and reality”, says Erin Sulivan,“photography can enhance your experience if it's done intentionally. The intention piece is what matters”. Documenting our trips can be fun, but do we push it to the point where we are actually missing out on the moment?


Photo by Hendra Wijaya, taken at the Pura Lempuyang Luhur, in Bali. The lake seen in many influencers' photos is just an illusion created by a man sitting under an umbrella and holding a mirror underneath his camera.
Photo by Hendra Wijaya, taken at the Pura Lempuyang Luhur, in Bali. The lake seen in many influencers' photos is just an illusion created by a man sitting under an umbrella and holding a mirror underneath his camera.

Traveling is important for the experiences it provides us with. So, if you can, sometimes it’s better to put the camera down for the sake of enjoying the moment and being fully present. Citing Sullivan again:“remember that this moment only comes once. […] Don’t lose a beautiful, irreplaceable memory because you were too focused on getting the shot.”.


If you want to hear more on intention and meaning behind photography, we recommend that you check out the talk Street Photography and Social Media - Publish and Be Damned? by Martin Bond on TEDxCambridgeUniversity

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