A Non-Photo Challenge: Leave the Camera At Home

I’m a big fan of taking pictures.  I’m enjoying the Weekly Photo Challenges here on WordPress.  I want to learn to take better pictures, and the only way to do that is to take a lot of pictures.  But I can admit that I go a little overboard from time to time.

I’m the mom who isn’t paying attention to her son’s turn at bat in baseball, because she is too busy trying to find the right angle and camera setting to capture her son’s turn at bat.  I have two cameras (plus the one on my phone), and I’m doing my damndest to let no celebration, event, outing or vacation go undocumented.

This is not me.  Photo credit: Harrison Keely/stock.xchng

This is not me.
Photo credit: Harrison Keely/stock.xchng on the blog We Are Both Right

I really should take a break from all that and remember a lesson I learned back in 1995.

That was the year I found myself without a camera (gasp!) in a foreign land.  I was visiting Istanbul, Turkey for two weeks, and (whether by accident or design) my camera was waaaay back at home in the States.  There I was, in a place totally unlike any I’d ever been to before, seeing incredible sights, and I had no way of capturing them.

What was a girl to do?

I decided to try to ‘memorize’ things during the trip.  I would attempt to burn an image or sensation into my brain so that it could not be forgotten.  Sights, food, people, experiences – I was going to cram as much into my head by simply paying attention.  You know, like people did before the invention of the camera.

Now, I don’t have pictures of any of this, but to this day, I can instantly recall the feel of the rough wool carpet against my forehead as my fellow travelers and I bowed in prayer at a mosque.  I can still taste the rice – I don’t know how they make it over there, but it’s something fabulous.

I can feel the air and sunshine, and the look on a young woman’s face as she adjusted my head covering in the courtyard of the ‘Blue Mosque”, murmuring, “Cho güzel, cho güzel.”

Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

Yes, this courtyard.  Photo via Wikipedia Commons

I can feel the strong, cool, smooth pillar of stone I set my cheek against in the Hagia Sofia.

It was one of those green ones.  Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

It was one of those greenish ones. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

I can remember having a meal on a terrace overlooking the Bosphorus Strait.  I remember some of the treasured items on display at the Topkapi Palace.  I remember the moderate alarm our group felt when we passed the Governor’s Palace and a guard, AK-47 and all, came running for us, shouting in a heavy accent, “American?  Are you American?”  Turned out he just wanted to practice his English with us.  He brought us in behind the guarded gates, gave us tea, and even let us take pictures of ourselves holding his gun.

In short, I remember more about that trip I took 18 years ago than I do about last week.

All because I forgot my camera.

That being said, I’m sure I won’t be shedding my over-documenting ways any time soon.  I don’t own a DSLR for nothing.  I was extremely disappointed when I forgot to take the camera to a lights show at the Botanical Gardens the other week.  I was gonna use a tripod, and everything…

But maybe, when I’m not so busy trying to become a better photographer, I can remember to pay attention.  It’s just as good.


2 thoughts on “A Non-Photo Challenge: Leave the Camera At Home

    • In the years since that trip, there have been some times when I’ve regretted not having any photos of that adventure, but the way I remember that trip is unlike any other trip I’ve taken.

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