Something happens when you put the camera up to your eye and you try to capture a moment. You inadvertently remove yourself from the moment. The organic flow of life comes to a halt for a split moment. That same flow that makes our moments worthy to capture is repelled every time you put the camera before you. I’m not saying photography ruins an experience, but you’re familiar with that unnatural moment created by simply holding a camera to someone’s face. The flow of the moment is repelled by the quest to capture.
There is a ‘no camera’ policy at the Coney Island Freak Show. I’m not sure I agree with the idea behind the policy, but I suppose it plays into the history and hidden mystique that is the Coney Island Freak Show. (I tend to be more for exposure, free sharing, and sneezers.) Strangely enough though, there is an inadvertant benefit to a strict policy that forbids photography,videography, and even life drawings of the spectacles you see when the curtains close behind you. Yes, sketchbooks must stay at home.
When you’re no longer focused on getting that photo as proof you were there or to serve as a corporeal reminder of your fun hip life, you get to a level where you actually enjoy the experience for what it truly is. You as the viewer become part of the show; no longer burdened with the need to snap the moments into existence for a facebook album no one will remember. You let your guard down. There is only life happening and your total engagement.
I’m sure we all have gigs of photos and maybe even boxes of photos (let’s not all date ourselves here) tucked away in storage. What is the real purpose of capturing that moment? Could we benefit more by simply being in that moment? What are we really trying to capture?
Let’s not be pedantic on the issue. Of course there are times when photographs enrich a moment. But the Coney Island Freak Show Policy, when applied to life, may be a fresh way to enjoy an experience. No longer see the good times as a thing to capture. So leave the camera at home. Stop overshooting.
Focus instead on being a participant.