So many photos … so few memories!

About two months ago, I woke up to the beautiful sight of a barred owl sitting on my very own backyard fence.

So why am I posting photographs of an eagle, you might ask? Well, let me tell you …

In the rush to get my tripod and my camera, in the rush to try and gauge the light (early sunrise), in the rush to try and get everything set up and ready to shoot ….

The beautiful barred owl flew away.

And as I slowly sighed and slumped down into my patio chair, cursing myself for having not set up quicker – the following thought occurred to me:

In my rush to try and capture the moment, I had missed the entire experience.

And I began to wonder, how many other experiences had I missed because I was too focused on the camera itself instead of the beauty unfolding directly in front of the lens?

It turns out, I have many beautiful photographs of birds and blooms … but not a lot of beautiful memories of the moments those photographs were actually taken.

The eagle shots that I’m posting today – I can tell you they were taken back in February at a local nature preserve (Florida has the highest population of breeding bald eagles in the lower 48!) … but that’s about it. I remember noticing the eagle nearby and I remember excitedly shooting off dozens of photos – in the hopes that I would end up with at least one really great shot – but I don’t remember feeling what I should have felt:

Awe. Reverence. Wonder. A solemn appreciation for the majesty of nature.

Nope, I was too focused on the settings of the camera itself.

So after the barred owl episode, I decided to take some time off from photography. To try and focus on the actual experiences in life – to actually feel those experiences in the present moment – to feel them and then let them pass … without trying to capture such in order to present myself with photographic evidence later on of a memory that I didn’t really even have.

It’s been difficult. I literally have not taken a single photograph in eight weeks. But I think that because of my camera’s absence, I have become a more mindful person. A person that has been reminded once again of the beauty that surrounds me each and every day.

I guess that sometimes, as photographers, we just need to put the camera down in order to fully see the beauty …

Right in front of our lens.