I travel for a living. I take a lot of pictures with my iphone – of places I visit, of beautiful things, of sunsets, of tasty barbecue (a life quest is the perfect plate of pulled pork). My business partner and I exchange pithy little photos by text of strange piles of debris we encounter on the sidewalks in American cities. My favorite so far as to be the gently bloody used latex gloves I came across in Shreveport, Louisiana.
So all of this is to say, yes, I get it. We document our lives – interesting and mundane, often at the expense of actual experience. Years ago I was visiting friends in Juneau, Alaska and was invited out on a crab boat in the bay on a perfect late afternoon. We encountered an extraordinary sight – whales bubble net fishing, circling a group of fish and pushing them to the center until a group of 4-5 would surface together at the center to gorge. It may be the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life, except I more or less missed it, screwing around with my digital camera to capture the moment. The results? Blurry and ambiguous shapes, off in the distance. I’d show them to people, and say would say, “Huh. Neat.”
This week I attended a symphony performance of a client down in North Carolina – a first rate performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. I was sitting per my custom on the aisle, and in front of me a woman in her 60s began taking photographs with her phone including the flash, for the duration of the performance. She would take a few, examine them, adjust the contrast or exposure, and repeat. For a 30 minute symphony. Without stopping once.
Of course this presented a quandary. I wanted to snatch the phone away in the name of civilization, or least firmly express my mortal outrage at this shocking concert behavior. But what if she was a major donor to my client? Risk the business relationship? And so I sat there doing nothing, partly in awe of her stamina and mostly in shocked outrage and amusement. The best is when she (and I) would examine the results every few minutes. Blurry, uninteresting, badly composed. She missed the show and had nothing to show for it.
So I am done taking pictures at concerts, of all varieties, including rock shows. You might consider doing the same. When your favorite band is playing your favorite song, stay in the moment. Look around and watch the people taking pictures, looking like a jackass. Watch the show. Live the moment.
Save your iphone for the amusing shot of a hipster with a man purse. Text me that one though okay?