On Remembering The Moments We Actually Capture

By |2012-05-09T09:55:48+00:00May 9th, 2012|

You just took a photo. Later in the day or maybe in the week, or maybe a few weeks out, you’ll look at the photo in your image management system of choice and work on it. Maybe you’ll boost the contrast, brightness, and color saturation. Maybe you’ll go more extreme and add a texture overlay. Perhaps some tone-mapping?

You’ll flag the image as done and export it out to a folder containing other done images that are ready to share on the social media universe for public consumption. It may garner comments, +1s, likes, retweets, and whatever other form of digital sentiments that the public can share.

But what about the memory of the moment itself that you worked so hard to capture? Do you remember why you even took the shot, other than because it was pretty or compelling or cool?

We tirelessly work to preserve moments with our images but how much do we actually preserve the memories that accompany them? It’s not a criticism by any means – rather, it’s a reminder that what makes our photos truly our own has to do with the memories that we form while taking them.

Take this shot of the frozen Umbagog Lake, for example. I have so many tiny, fond memories of taking this very exposure. We had just finished an exhausting day-long trek through the forest on dog sled and had just made camp for the evening. The sun was setting behind me and to the right a bit. Despite the frigid temperature from the air, I remember feeling extremely comfortable standing on the frozen lake covered in a foot of snow with my snowshoes on. I remember how ludicrously quiet the entire area was up until the entire pack of 30+ huskies simultaneously burst into a beautiful, synchronized, and harrowing howl (that was my favorite memory).

I also remember handholding the camera here, for fear that my tripod’s spiked feet would break through the frozen ice. I remember metering off of the mountains in the background and composing my shot so that the little island of trees was placed slightly to the right of center. I remember being relieved that, despite the relatively low light, I was able to get a quick shutter speed even at f/9 and ISO 200. I also remember being very thankful for having a lens that has image stabilization.

I remember the exposure being taken and looking down to the LCD. I remember being happy that I nailed the shot but also being wary of having just one exposure, so I took four more… just in case.

All of these things that I remember make this shot mine. Sure, the actual composition and stylization choices may have my stamp on them but what makes up the soul of this shot are the memories that surround it.

So next time you’re out and about, take a few moments to capture the memories first. The image capture will surely follow.

In terms of processing
This was a very simple image to process. I didn’t want to do much to it as I felt that the beauty of the scene did more than enough to make it compelling. I did add a slight amount of Blue Dawn Leonidas from PhotoTools 2.6 by +onOne Software. I also selectively added a tiny amount of Golden Hour Enhancerto the sky to add some warmth. Other than that, I applied finishing touches in Lightroom 3.

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (1 photo)

Google+: View post on Google+


  1. Scott Frederick May 9, 2012 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Wow, what a beautiful shot!

  2. Javier Esvall May 9, 2012 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Wonderful landscape

  3. Julie Jamieson May 9, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

    I don't know what it is about my favourite images but somehow I always remember the details of the day. There must be an emotional connection … really being the reason I took the shot in the first place.

  4. Stephanie Roberts May 9, 2012 at 9:53 am - Reply

    A good reminder to stop and smell the frozen lake, +Brian Matiash ! And I don't have access to my software right now, but there is a Notes field somewhere in the Metadata area of Aperture that is a great place to make memory notes.

  5. Dave Veffer May 9, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Great write-up and lovely photo. Really matches well with your description of your memory of the environment.

  6. Daniel Schwabe May 9, 2012 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Great photo… and even better account! It would be great if we had additional means to convey the feeling/experience you describe, in addition to the image itself…

  7. Nicole S. Young May 9, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I always say that the reason I'm a photographer is because I have a horrible memory. Most of the time I can look at one of my images and it helps me remember everything about that day … it's like a still shot of a movie I was watching or something.

  8. Ash Lizzard May 9, 2012 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I'll be honest and say that the photo' doesn't do anything for me, however, your commentary did, I agree with you absolutely…

  9. Brad Sloan May 9, 2012 at 10:18 am - Reply

    I'm with +Nicole S. Young. I can barely remember what I wore yesterday. Photos usually focus the memories surrounding them for me.

  10. Tony Stark May 9, 2012 at 10:19 am - Reply


  11. Jay Patel May 9, 2012 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Ahem…Cough…..Email. :-)))

    I remember for some of the photos…specially when +Varina Patel and I are together. Some of the moments are made of great stories, while others are personal, some are accidents while others are hilarious. +Varina Patel and I can easily write an eBook of the experiences we had while on our photography adventure.

  12. Shelly Gunderson May 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    very lovely scene!

  13. David D. May 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Stunning! Great shot.

Please share your thoughts! (Markdown syntax is supported)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.