If there is one phrase I can remember from my Army Basic training is Stay alert and Stay Alive.
As a kid I was usually alert because of my surroundings. I lived from in the inner city from two years old to 12.
My parents moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut and by the late 80’s it was usually one of the cities with the highest crime rates in the newspapers across the country.
Seeing so much violence as a kid from seeing people shooting at each other, to dark memories of seeing the results of those attacks.
It made me understand the, “Stay Alert and Stay Alive” mantra at a much earlier part of my life, way before the military.
Till this day when someone is talking with me in a public space, I am always looking over their back and mine. I am completely listening to the person but I am alert of what is happening around me at all times.
There is a big difference with being alert and being aware.
Now that I live in an environment that is less violent, it allows me to be aware of my surroundings.
Photography has allowed me to focus on being more aware. It allows me to capture details that I miss out on regularly.
When I take a picture, I make sure that I observe what will come through my lens. The perspective I am seeing should be important in capturing what I am feeling.
To focus on the details is something they also try to teach you in the military. When I look at my background and the professional environments I have worked such as a Big 4 Accounting Firm to running my business, being detail oriented is part of my daily life.
These days when I miss out on something, I have my daughter to point things out. Having a four year old with you most of the time helps. Kids are usually paying attention to every detail you can think about. Their innocence helps them stay aware and not necessarily in that alert state.
Being Alert when trying to be Aware
On the other side I see many folks who decide to capture everything via pictures or video and they sometimes miss out on what is around them.
In a race to capture every moment via a live streaming video app or share each picture they capture, they are alerting others of what they are doing. I believe they miss out on enjoying the moment and it happens more often than it should.
Being aware of a moment and then later go back to edit each piece is like creating art. One of the best examples of that is when my daughter pointed out a space ship in the sky. Daniela had identified the Lights of the International Space Station.
I have a reminder of capturing that moment and a light trail of the space station. The images are there to support the moment. It’s not the the other way around.
If every time we take a pictures, we go directly to publishing it and alerting the world. In those instant moments, we sacrifice quality. We are bombarding everyone with what we are seeing vs curating those special moments for myself, you, and for everyone else to enjoy.
These days cameras aren’t as limited with the amount of pictures we can take. I remember when I used to carry floppy’s for my first digital camera. Now I have cards that hold up to 128GB of memory. Before that, we were limited with the amount of film we had on hand.
It can make it seem like an all you can eat buffet. With too much content creation, without curating, I believe we become slower and less agile with our creativity.
You have to Set Your Limitations
Putting limitations to one’s work is critical. It can nurture better quality work and it will definitely bring the best out of all of us.
Just because you now have the ability to capture every moment and share it in real time, does not mean you should.
Pick and share your best. Value the time of your audience, it will bring better results. Trust me.