Photography is an interesting hobby that I never quite understood. I enjoyed taking pictures at memorable moments: a birthday, vacation, or wedding. However, I could never imagine carrying a tripod and taking thirty minutes to set up a shot.
It’s not uncommon to see people strolling around with a big, multi-thousand dollar camera tethered to their neck. It looks heavy and cumbersome, and I watch as they reach around into their backpack and change lenses with the delicacy one would use to pass an infant into a father’s arms. Who are these people and why would they choose a hobby that requires so much of an investment? And doesn’t it interfere with living in the present moment if one is constantly viewing their surroundings through a wide angle lens?
But if this were all true, how come the photographers I meet are really happy people? They are always eager to share what picture they just took, whether it’s a drop of dew on an orchid or a shot of the elusive Quetzal while hiking through the forest. The joy on their faces rival any Super Bowl victory and it’s now that I realize they are living more in the present moment than I am.
With these people in mind, I start to look at my incredible surroundings through different eyes. Instead of just taking pictures of sunsets and landscapes, I begin to concentrate on the smaller things. I put a hold on the monkeys and ocean-view shots and investigate what is in my own backyard. Often, it’s the small things that get overlooked when your life moves too quickly. So I begin to slow down and literally gaze at what is right in front of me.
What I find are glorious metallic-colored bugs feasting on leaves, and flowers growing strait out of gravel. I watch a wasp drink from a water drop on a leaf and find an iguana hiding in a rock crevice. I never thought of taking these pictures because—like most consumers—bigger is always better. And I believed what I should consume with my eyes should be as big as a 180 degree view. It’s a foolish way of thinking, and I would have missed out on a big piece of Costa Rica if I followed that path.
Looking through a lens helps to frame life differently. It naturally develops a pleasant attitude, and now I understand why the photographers I meet are always in good spirits. They know this world has something great to show them, all they have to do is a little detective work to discover it.
It’s not necessary to have an expensive camera to do this. It’s not even important to have a camera at all. Children can watch a line of marching ants for hours; they notice everything about the ants, their little legs and the piles of displaced dirt they make. It’s ironic that as we grow older, we lose the things that kept us the most interested, replacing them with the bigger things in life. Since moving here, I felt I had given all that up and was already appreciating a simpler existence. But now I see there is still so much to learn, and living in the present moment is a continuous path of introspection.
Next time you see a photographer, ask if they took any great shots that day. They’ll be happy to show you a few and it might inspire you to take a closer look at the smaller things. And you never know, you may find a slightly agitated iguana peaking right back at you.