The Vacation, a poem

Following on from yesterday’s post about not taking photographs, here is a poem that someone linked to on the source post:

The Vacation
By Wendell Berry

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.


For me, the point of taking photographs is not necessarily to record something that’s happening in order to relive that, though documentation (subtly different) can be a valuable; when I take pictures, even pictures while on trips or vactaions, my primary ideal is to create something in and of itself. This can mean taking pictures which evoke an emotion, or convey a particular point of view. If it’s a travel shot, I want to take a picture that someone else can appreciate for its own sake, without the context of my trip. It’s the difference between making a picture, and simply snapping something that’s happening – it requires thought and composition. When you take travel shots with this mindset, I think you can get more interesting photographs. Of course, I don’t always succeed! Before you take a photograph, ask why you’re taking it, who you’re taking it for, and if you’re taking it at the expense of experiencing it.

What do you think?