The Romantic snapshot

pic2I have got mixed feelings towards snapshooting, I mean, I do enjoy the language of pictures, I also follow a lot of amazing blogs about photography, however, whenever I have the opportunity of seeing something worthy of being captured in a shot, well, I always feel strangely reluctant to pick the camera and  take that picture. I still remember the overwhelming emotions I felt, when I saw my first Maldivian atoll. It was the first stop of an adventurous cruise on the Indian Ocean ( local ship and crew and just a bunch of tourists that barely knew one another). I wasn’t actually an atoll, but rather a white, sparkling sandy beach that surfaced in the middle or the most crystalline water I had ever seen.The sea had all the nuances of the blue and became whiter and whiter near the shore. Being a sea lover and beach hunter, I was dazzled. It was my dream that came true. I stood there, gazing speechless the magnificent colours for a long time and even if perfectly equipped, I completely forgot about taking pictures. The only photos I have of that trip belong to my husband, as I met him there.

pic4If I want to psychoanalyze myself to explain my idiosyncrasy about snapshooting, I could get to the conclusion that, very likely, it is grounded on my perception that it is all about catching the perfect instant rather than living it. For me it is as if I were missing the flow of the emotions in the effort of fixing them on a pic. Maybe this is my “romantic” vision of life, as I am pretty sure that Mr William Wordsworth would certainly agree with my point of view, if only he could. He was all about the ”  spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”  that arouse from the sight of amazing and unexpectedly beautiful natural landscapes. Wordsworth didn’t have cameras for sure, so he used the language of poetry to fix them. But how and when? Well, he believed in “solitude” and “tranquillity“.

pic 3Solitude” for Wordsworth is the privileged condition that allows you to see and feel in a unique, powerful way. If you are not distracted by words and noises, your self is more likely to enjoy the spiritual force of nature and be part of it. In  “Daffodils”, the poets tells us the sight of the beautiful flowers filled his mind leaving no room for anything  else ” I gazed, I gazed, but little thought” and in that moment he was overwhelmed by and incredible joy, a beatitude that you feel once you feel in harmony with the whole universe. Could he feel this way, if he had to bother about the perfect light to capture those daffodils?

For Wordsworth, in fact, poetry takes its origin from those emotions, but “recollected in tranquillity”, that is, from memory. Hence, both a poem and a picture have the same function: recreating a kindred emotion in order to be enjoyed (“My heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils“), but who has experienced the greatest bliss: the poet or the photographer?

52 thoughts on “The Romantic snapshot

  1. Every week I feel smarter with Mrs. Tink.
    Actually if I have a picture in front it does gives me at least, that much more to draw on for some strange poem that I write. If you can call it poetry that is.

  2. Stefy from my perspective there are two sides to this. Having the blog I am constantly looking for beautiful photos to take so perhaps I am distracted from being in the moment. On the other hand because of my quest my eyes are open wider and I see far more in my environment so in that sense I am experiencing so much more.

  3. Excellent post, I love the ideas that you have introduced here, one capturing the moment with a camera, and the other being truly lost in the moment and experiencing it. Thank you, wonderful!

    Warm wishes,

  4. I struggle with this as well, Stefy. I think about capturing beautiful shots all the time, sometimes to the point of obsession, it seems. But I do think looking for the beauty in every day life may be a benefit as well. And once I think I have a great shot, I can enjoy the moment even more. 😉

  5. I love you perspective here – because there is the wisdom of “being” and how so often we lose something if we are
    “all about catching the perfect instant rather than living it.”

    I learned this lesson with my kid’s sports – especially when I started making team videos – not only was I consumed with “catching it” – but I began ruining things when I needed specific shots from teammates in order to get a certain feel for my footage. “Hey coach, I need one more player after the game to give me a kick shot form the goal.” “”Hey timmy, before you leave today I need one shot of you with your gear on…” it was exhausting… – lol

    also, in the blog world it can get draining to live life trying to always catch an image for a post. And sometimes I intentionally leave all gadgets in the car so I can just observe and “live it”
    However, I consider it a true gift to be able to memorialize life events through pics/vids – and I have a feeling that Wordsworth would take photos too. he would likely keep them simple – and have balance – but I bet he would use the tech that was available to him – while also using words to capture the essence while and then “after” it was lived and enjoyed. and there can be balance – and when my son came home from college for a quick visit – I only caught two photos of he and his friend – but I did is naturally and the pics are just warm to my heart – because the mind does forget so much of the little things – like looks at different ages or clothing items and hairstyles – and the shots help us feel a bit more.

    and well, my last thing to share which relates to your poignant words – has to do with an annual science fair I hosted. I did not have a camera person designated that year and I thought I would be able to grab some shots. I only got a few scraps of video footage because I was running things. Well later – when a few photos came in from parents – well I just did not have enough for a video or slideshow – and I did exactly what you mentioned here. I said – for ages and ages we had the powerful use of words to capture the essence of an event – and so I would use words to share specific details of projects and children’s sharing – and so I crafted a wonderful summary essay – and to this day I still love that written summation.

    But you know, my essay really was not as special as small slideshow would have been. And so I learned the value of being able to get some footage – because it grabs an essence that words may often not be able to do. Like the dry ice experiment that year – I wrote about it – with rich adjectives and noted how the one kid did this and that – but when you see the footage – and see the smoke – and see the pic of someone’s eyes widening – well there are sometimes little things that only a photo or vid can show.

    and so while there are times I go camera-free to “live” the experience – AND to give myself a needed break so I am not always thinking of preserving that darn moment -but I also know that the time or energy I take to grab a few shots – well it can be a gift later on – a true gift – and it is worth the effort, ya know?

    great post and you have such a wise view of “being”

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, your words really made ponder. You actually convinced me on one point: Wordsworth would have appreciated pics or footage. He had worked on the language of poetry in order to make it more accessible to readers as he needed a more effective means of communication to convey emotions, just like your footage. I can actually imagine the man wandering among the daffodils in rapture with a camera in his hands. 🙂

  6. The picture stops the image in one beautiful moment of time but a hundred poets could write a thousand beautiful poems from it. Conversely, a poem can send a different image to every reader. For images vs imagination, I’ll take the latter every time and thank you for bringing me to this awareness e-T with this contemplative piece that you have evidently created in vacant or in pensive mood.

    • Therefore we are both very Romantic, Mike :)! You wouldn’t believe it , but this “contemplative piece” is the product of a discussion in class, after reading ” Daffodils”, of course.

  7. For me it is as if I were missing the flow of the emotions in the effort of fixing them (on a pic)”.
    Excellent… What a perfect what to catch the romantic idiosyncrasy dear Stefi ⭐
    “Daffodils” is such a beautiful poem… I love the way you related it to the idea of solitude.
    Great post, as always. All the very best to you, Aquileana 😀

    • Hi Aquileana, being your reader, I was pretty sure you would have appreciated this “romantic” perspective. Once again, thank you for your supportive words of appreciation.

  8. Such an insightful post and ditto for the comments. Visuals are such an immediate sensation, aren’t they, and we tend to use snapshots for impressions and instant emotional impact. Unlike poems, descriptions, acted narratives which achieve their impact ovet time.

    For me the big disadvantage of snapshots is that they are a postponement of appreciation. In this era of digital photography we can load our hard drives with so many images which we say we intend to examine at leisure, but do we? I rarely do and end up with decreased laptop and mobile efficiency. Even transferring to an external hard drive postpones appreciation. Instant gratification doesn’t necessarily lead to long term satisfaction.

    • Hi Chris, you are right, I seldom examine the pictures stored in my hard drives myself. It is only the pleasure of the moment. The point is that the digital era is so perfect but it is a “cold” perfection. Old style pictures, better if a little yellowed,are ” warm”. They convey that nostalgia for those happy moments and those shadows of the past only touching them lightly with your hands.

  9. I´m actually more with you on the first part when you said that you prefer to experience the moment than to take time and take a picture, romantic you Mrs. Tink….but I guess you can do both no? Take a quick snap and then back to living the thing. I´m just to lazy to carry a camera around.

    Mr. Wordsworth… that really his real name? the guy is a poet and his last name starts with Words and then he adds Worth to it, so words that are worth it, maybe this one was a real narcissist. I can write poetry in solitude, surrounded by masses of people, whenever, I just zone out everything. Although what he said about capturing the beauty of what you see in words and then transmitting that to an audience that is the real challenge, and those who do it are able to make the audience think, or laugh, or create whatever feeling it is, then those are the talented ones I guess.

  10. Thank you for stopping by my blog and noticing my silly selfie. I am a writer, poet, editor, publisher, but photos do inspire me…just not ones of myself. lol I just couldn’t resist the autumn leaves that match my hair. I love your viewpoints on snapshots and inspiration. You and I have much in common.

  11. The poet or the photographer? In my opinion we can be poets whenever we want. In fact each person feels different emotions in front of different situations . When we see something that makes your heart beat, we preserve it inside us; because a photo cannot replace the emotion. But I also think that thanks to photographer we can admire, for example, a beautiful landscape we would never be able to see , maybe . So the poet feels intense emotions, instead the photographer tries to capture and transmit those emotions to people , which is likely even more difficult!

  12. This post is very interesting. I completely agree with the idea that when we see a landscape, which is magical for us, we should totally enjoy that moment, forgetting every thought and concern. I also retain that photos are very special and magical because they remind us of the beautiful places visited and the emotions felt. But, on the other hand, when we make too many photos we risk not to enjoy that special moment.
    I personally love taking pictures to have memories of the most beautiful places visited and the people I met. However I am always careful to avoid to concentrate myself only on the photos. In fact I think the most important thing when I am in front of a landscape is the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” that arouse in me, because I’m sure that I will always carry those emotions in my heart.

  13. I believed that Just a single picture can trigger strong emotions. So strong that you can live again those moments Just closing your eyes. This happened to me when I saw the first picture that I took in Central Park, even if i’m not a professional photographer , the very first time I visited New York City. That was The moment when I felt that that place belonged to me and I belonged to it. I think that to be a photographer you must be a poet, because in every photo there is poetry.

  14. I fully agree with the idea expressed here. I think even a single photo, or image can convey you emotions and make you remember something extraordinary. In my opinion, to appreciate an experience, an emotion, or a memory, no one should be alone, because sometimes we can remain imprinted places, images, sensations thanks to the company that we have at that moment..

  15. I love the art of photography and I love to take pictures.
    It is amazing to immortalize the sea, the mountains, the flowers, the people forever …
    In my camera there will be about two thousand pictures, but at home I have anyone of them exposed.

    I always thought that men like to take pictures to capture a moment of great pleasure that concerns himself and not the surrounding environment.
    In recent years I have realized that the best pictures in my life have not been taken with the camera …
    It ‘was just the sea, the mountains, the flowers, the people to photograph me … while I was happy ..

    • I think that the poet does not take a picture to capture a feeling or a landscape. He will describe it in the future using the memory and imagination (which will allow him to live it again … and again … and again almost as if it was present)

  16. Probably we live in a period were take a photo of everything is a sort of ” status simbol” and post a lot of photo on every social network is more important that catch the emotions that some places make us feel. In my opinion take a photo is more of this. I believe that with a photo I can imprison all the essence of the moment and be able to relive that powerful feeling again and again. But today i relized also that some Times are so singular that even a photo is able to imprisoner them… They must be lived until the last second because they will remain in our hearts

  17. The speaker was walking around through the hills and valleys, but he felt all lonely and mopey. Suddenly, as he passed a lake, he noticed a big group of yellow daffodils waving in the breeze. This wasn’t just some scattered patch of daffodils. We’re talking thousands and thousands around this particular bay. And all these flowers were dancing.

    Yes, the daffodils danced, and so did the waves of the lake. But the daffodils danced better. The speaker’s loneliness was replaced by joy, but he didn’t even realize what a gift he has received until later. Now, whenever he’s feeling kind of blah, he just thinks of the daffodils, and his heart is happily dancing.
    William Wordsworth

  18. I partly agree with you. If you take a photo, in that moment you will not fully live the experience and miss part of the emotion. But today we are in the 21st century and we have to look at reality through these eyes. In fact, with social media, today it’s almost more important to appear. Taking photos, videos and showing them has become more important than living the experience itself. However, photos can also create strong emotions. Perhaps, in some ways, they replaced the 18th century poetry above all for my generation: a photo fixes moments and feelings, it communicates a lot of things with its colours, subjects, the use of light and can make you feel particular emotions. A photo can make you happy, sad, laugh… It is immediate, you need just a phone and with a click you capture a moment. It’s faster and easier than writing a poem…

  19. I agree with you. I have a particular aversion for photo, too. When we live a marvellous experience, we immediately take a photo to immortalate the moment, encapsulating it in a digital image. However, I understand reasons push people to take photos: we are in the 21st century and it’s routine, it’s an habit. I understand it, but it’s not for me. I prefer living totally the surrounding world rather than taking photos on repeat to show me better than you, than anyone else or to display how I am lucky or how I am cool and so on. If I feel amazing emotions, in future I won’t need picture to bring these feelings to mind (I hope it, if Alzhemeir’s disease allow it). Maybe, I will change my mind and I will become the most famous Instagram influencer on the surface of Earth. Maybe, I really will regret this choice. Now, personally I don’t consider it as a natural and genuine action – for me, it’s innatural and artificial. To take photos during a magical experience would irremediably empty that moment. Only this. I don’t think it’s a Romantic act, because, even the writing/the poetry, twists your original perception through a rational process (from pure emotion to written word).
    When I am not the photographer, the perspective completely changes…

  20. I believe that you are partially right. In fact I completely agree with you about the fact that, when you are in a beautiful place and you are overwhelmed by a host of amazing emotions that make you speechless, it’s better to enjoy the moment, instead of finding yourself breaking that wonderful atmosphere that was created around you. This is very romantic, and even more so are those who, like the poet, can relive these moments through memory. But I think also that pictures are one of the best inventions, because memories can fade, or even disappear, and photography allows them to stay alive. So it’s a little bit as if the poems of the romantics, in the modern age, had been replaced by the photographs.

  21. I love the art of photography. I like taking pictures and I like to look at photos of all kinds. Photos of landscapes, people, roads, flowers and plants. I think the beauty of photography is the power to keep a memory over the years, our mind could erase these memories. For example, when I look at photos of when I was a child, I remember things that my mind had removed. I am conducive to snapshots. At the same time, believing myself to be a sensitive person, I like to live an emotion to the full. For this reason, even if I love photography, in really beautiful and exciting moments I don’t pick a camera. In those cases I prefer to memorize an emotion lived fully in my memories and not to memorize an emotion lived halfway in a lans. For this reason I think that poet has experienced the greatest bliss.

  22. I agree with your point of view about enjoying the moment and not just thinking about capturing it in a photo. But personally I find myself taking pictures of some events to remember them, even the most insignificant moments I consider that they must be remembered. Like a walk on the beach until sunset, I photograph the sunset to remind me of the day that has just passed, so that when I go one day to look at that photo I will remember that day. I know that some people don’t need a photograph to remember an important moment in their life, but we always have something that reminds us of a specific moment, like a message, a piece of paper, or anything else, like this they are also photos, objects that help to remember. I find many photos in my phone which for some people may not make sense because they are blurry or badly taken, but they are memories for me.

  23. Emotions are something extremely subjective. Taking pictures or just feeling emotions in front of a spectacular landscape, are two ways to “immortalize” that moment. I personally take pictures to make that moment “immortal”, so that when I look at the picture, I can remember that moment. But I also think that the emotions that you personally feel when you look at a landscape, for example, are totally different from those feelings that you feel when you look at that picture in the future.

  24. I think the photos are very important. One click takes five seconds to do it, but it can remain in your mind for a lifetime. Unfortunately, however, I am of the opinion, you must fully enjoy the moments, so I never take photos because I am so caught up in the moment that I forget. However I think that a photo and a poem can have the same effect, one visually and one orally

  25. I fully agree with you. I also think that when you are in front of something spectacular you have to enjoy it and not think about taking pictures. But, unfortunately, memories can be forgotten with time, instead a photograph cannot.
    Despite this, I think the poet experienced the greatest happiness as he enjoyed the moment and thought of nothing.

  26. Certainly the poet lived the greatest happiness, but today a photographer can also reach it.
    I like took photo and when I look them I remember the moment and I am happy.

  27. “I think” that the poet is both enjoyed happiness more than the photographer but personally I am of the opinion that if something or someone strikes you carefully you do not forget it, it leaves you with an image imprinted for life, as if you had taken a photograph but with the brain. Which I think poets use. They use memories, memory to describe what they saw as fantastic and beautiful. They imagine in their head a photo of that moment and in my opinion poets and photographers can be linked together

  28. I think that in our time it is almost impossible not to take photos because there is almost a trend,
    however I like to think that the photos are fragments of our history and when I have one I can relive those moments and those emotions, bad or beautiful.

  29. I think that poetry and photography have two different types of conveying emotions. The first one tends to revoke the sensations of that moment through a detailed description who tends to recall a part of the 5 senses, providing a more detailed description. The second one instead involves the sight more but maybe it doesn’t make you make the most out of that moment.

  30. I love taking pictures because I love to see them again, I love to stare at the photo and remember the precise moment in which I took it. I have a beautiful photo of a cliff taken during a vacation I still feel the nauseating smell that was in that cave , I still feel the smell of the sea, the sun that was slowly falling, I remember the mixture of languages that I felt that to me they only came as sounds because I didn’t understand. I love photos and above all I love taking them because on a rainy day they make me feel the emotions I felt for a moment.

  31. Photography today is very powerful, now everyone can do it in a simple way. I personally don’t like taking pictures, or I don’t think so. Living the moment is definitely beautiful, but also being able to capture it and relive it in the future simply by looking at a photograph. Remembering moments that made us happy helps us get through the darkest days.

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