We often hear the saying, ‘The only time we have is now’.
Even if we are not always able to live in the present moment there is no doubting the truth of this statement.
We might regret things we did or didn’t do in the past, and continually focus on them, or we might be a person who is constantly living for some future event. However, the reality is that the past is gone, never to be repeated, and the future has not happened yet, and may never happen the way we envisage it, so all we have is now, this moment.
This truth was brought into stark reality for me last week when I had made great plans for the day and the upcoming weekend, only to unexpectedly twist my ankle. I spent the next two days with my foot elevated, applying ice on a regular basis, and all plans went by the wayside.
It was a salutary lesson because I tend to live in the future more than I should. I constantly think about what I’ll do tomorrow, or next week, or when I’m on holiday. It’s a bad habit since I am not guaranteed a future. So, I have been making a conscious effort to stay in the moment as much as possible.
How does photography help us to live in the present moment?
I would say that of all the activities I do, photography is the one that keeps me most focused on the present moment.
When I am out with my camera making an image, I am intent on getting the right settings, lining up a good composition, checking the edges of my frame for distractions, watching what the light is doing and concentrating on what is going on in the moment of capturing my image.
All other thoughts leave my mind.
The stresses of the day just past, or the worries of the day to come, are temporarily left behind as I focus on this photograph.
When I go out with my camera on a regular basis, I build a habit of being present in the moment and it becomes my place of solitude, the place where I most want to be, the place where I can forget everything else and just be present.
I love to take images that reflect this reality, images that are uncluttered and that capture this moment in time that will not come again. These images add to the serenity of the moment and help keep me grounded in the present.
Next time you want to escape the stresses of daily living, take a walk with your camera.
Spend time in your chosen location.
Engage all your senses.
Don’t just take a snapshot, be intentional about your image, about the subject, the composition, the settings.
Take your time, be patient, be present and photography will teach you to live in the moment.