I am running out the door to yet another event where a family member will soon perform, play, pose or otherwise engage in some activity that we supposedly want to capture for posterity. Posterity’s moments already fill our garage, attic, shelves, drawers and walls.  Films, videotapes, photos, cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, floppy disks and hard disks, you name it, baby, we’ve got it, from Haiti to Hollywood, New Orleans to New York City, birth to death, plays to proms, ancestors to friends, annuals to articles, we are surrounded by double print and back-up copies of captured moments that chronicle decades of family activities and adventures.

Yet, I pause.  I am not sure I want to photograph or videotape today.  Sometimes, I can actually imagine enjoying life unburdened by recording equipment.  Could I, would I, dare leave the camera at home?

For most of my journeys near and far for much of my life, I have carried a camera or video camera, and often both.  When my loved ones appear on the field or on stage, I am one of those pressing “Record” and angling for the best shot.  For years, my kind have watched entire events unfold, until recently, through tiny, black and white viewfinders.  We usually can’t wait to get home and see everything bigger and in color because, ironically, we are so busy capturing the moments that we do not “see” events as they happen.

My true enjoyment of many captured moments is time-delayed, which makes me wonder, have I missed the moments themselves?

A few years ago, I intentionally did not film any of my children’s performances in a particular musical.  I decided to fully immerse myself in the dynamic experience and thoroughly enjoy their every performance, live and in 3-D color.  And I did.  I sat with family and friends in the audience, unencumbered, free to laugh and cry and clap and yell and sing and soak in the full depth of sound, stage, and lighting, the myriad nuances of the characters performances, and the full ambiance of each setting as it happened.  The entire experience was wonderful.  I replay portions of it my mind occasionally, and smile.  However, I admit twinges of regret.  Then again, how many times would we have watched the video?  Once or twice, maybe once again twenty years from now?

Perhaps the best scenario is multiple performances.  Then, I can enjoy the best of both worlds, except when the whirrs, red LED’s and monitors, clicks and flashes, and the jockeying of others detracts me from my planned, unhampered experiences.

Sometimes, the solution is to buy the professional version.  But, on occasion, I am the professional.  And, depending on the event, most professional versions will never spend enough time focusing on the one person or group that you and your family really want to see.  I know, because when I professionally film events that include members of my own family, I disappoint myself and my family in order to be fair to everyone else.

Another issue weighing on my mind as I waver is the number of people in my experience who have seen me with a camera at an event and asked if they could get a copy.  I am usually happy to oblige, but my unfettered willingness has been diminished by the number of people over the years who have asked for and received a photo or video or DVD and never offered any reimbursement, as if they somehow deserved a copy and I was expected to freely spend the extra time and pay all costs on their behalf.  Taking a camera can incur burden both during and after events.

Thankfully, my wife and I share this passion, and often share the duties.  But, what do we share when we are always trading off?  Most of our family pictures have one of us in them; the other is behind the lens.  Then again, when filming events, no one around is supposed to exchange audible comments while the event is in progress, unless we want our comments captured on tape.  So, what do we share when we are side by side, but silent, with cameras in between?

On the other hand, when we gather together to view recorded events later, we will talk.  Those in the event will enjoy their own experience from a different perspective, and enjoy hearing us talk about them.  We will all hear each other’s comments and interact at our leisure.  Also, we will share the moments with others who were not able to attend.  Thus, our discussion and Play/Pause-reviews, now and in years to come, will extend events beyond the moments and expand them beyond our own original experiences of those moments.  Am I willing to leave this opportunity on the shelf?

I’m walking out the door now.  My wife has the camera, and I have the video camera.  Assuming our batteries are charged, our equipment works, and we get good seats without big heads, hair or hats in the way to block our shots, maybe we can all experience the event together . . . later . . . after it is over.

Published in Meat and Potatoes for the Soul, Copyright © 2013 by K. Lynn Lewis.