Selfies and Other Captured Moments Matter and Why You Should Have Them

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Paris, France in front of Notre Dame Cathedral on a beautiful summer day.

The sky was pouring sheets of rain and there I was running down the street at 3:00AM in Paris, France. My phone was dead, my plane was set to depart in just a few hours, I have only memory to help me find my hotel which is miles away, and since Uber isn’t an option and the taxis just aren’t very plentiful…I just run. Suddenly a guy yells and motions me to come in out of the rain. I gratefully enter the small room of the electronics shop where he and some of his pals have spent the evening escaping the rain. After everyone figures out where I’m from and what I’m doing running in the rain, they offer to let me charge my phone. What luck, right?! Of all places to be invited to weather a storm when your phone is dead, this one was just about perfect. We spent the next hour or so laughing, telling stories about the places we had lived (most of them were from the Middle East), and just enjoying the hell out of ourselves as we waited out the rain. They were Facebook-ing, Twitter-ing, Instagram-ming and capturing the fun while my phone was still charging. I didn’t think much about it until months later when a friend asked me to tell her about some of my  favorite moments in Paris. That hour spent in the company of total strangers with a minor language gap on the side of a random Paris street, soaking wet and waiting for my phone to charge was one of the best experiences in all of my many world travels. It was so real, so interesting and the people made it something to remember fondly as time passes. The weird thing is, I didn’t tell my friend about it when she asked me about my favorite experiences. In fact, it didn’t even come to mind until a few weeks later when I was home, in Tulsa, Oklahoma running through the rain at night to get to a restaurant. Right then and there, that great memory returned to me and for a moment I was in Paris, France once again.

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I tell you this story because it is important to recognize that some of our best moments as human beings are not major events, but often tend to be small, seemingly insignificant interactions where people connect and share and enjoy each other and as soon as the moment begins, it’s over. Despite all of my photography and videography from that visit to Paris, France it’s that one simple, unspectacular interaction with a couple of dudes from the Middle East that I wish I had captured with a photo more than anything else. But I didn’t.

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Capturing the moment will serve you better in the future. As you can see, a close-up selfie may be okay, but the lack of context steals the story of that special moment.

Now let me tell you – I’m the first person to find it uber-annoying to have a social media friend who just posts photo after photo of their face and the faces of their friends. I mean, why even have an account if your own face is your favorite thing? No one else wants to see that everyday all day – you may as well just save the face photos to your computer instead of clogging up my social media feed with that meaningless nothing. While selfies having nothing but faces are dull and dumb, if your photos tell a story, and if you can tell from the photo where you are and who are with, that kind of captured moment can hold great meaning. I have a number of traveling friends who take no cameras with them when they travel so that they can be 100% in the moment. I love this and find their philosophy refreshing, but on the other hand, what happens when their child asks them about that time they visited Paris, France and wants to know what they saw, who they met and what strange things happened that made them love the experience. Photos and video are amazing tools for keeping memories alive!

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The memory of knowing that I was standing in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy is so much cooler than getting a close-up selfie of my face. Selfies are usually only great if they tell a story.

This article is short and the message is simple. Capturing moments does matter. Sometimes you find yourself reenacting something to capture it after the moment passed and sometimes you catch a perfect situation the first time around. Either way it’s the value of having that visual representation of your experience that you can look at and fondly  remember that really matters. When your friends and family leave this world, those photos you didn’t take in those beautiful places you’ve been will matter. And, those close up face-only selfies you took while the amazing sunset behind you is hidden will be virtually useless because they don’t offer context. In the years to come, you won’t remember where they were taken or what you were doing and those photos will hold no emotional meaning, they’re just faces.

I encourage you to take valuable, memorable photos and capture moments, not just images. It is very often the things going on behind the people in the photo that matter most – that is the things that tell the story for you when in the future you see an image and immediately relive that moment.

Here’s to capturing moments and not just pictures!

Best to you my friends!

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