Don’t let the camera interfere with savoring the experience

by Denver Dad

I thought this article would be fun to discuss.

How Video Killed the Family Vacation


70 thoughts on “Don’t let the camera interfere with savoring the experience

  1. We are not huge picture or video takers. We take far fewer photos than many of my children’s peers’ parents. I am not the best photographer either. However, we try to take a few pictures when we go places mainly to have something tangible to trigger a memory. Also to have some record of how the kids have changed over time and who their friends were (if with us) or what they enjoyed doing. I likely take fewer photos with a digital camera/smart phone, because I can see immediately if I got a picture that isn’t blurry.

  2. Kinda yes and kinda no.

    The people they interviewed are largely people who chose to monetize their home videos and turn them into a business. That will get old quickly — it’s why DH continues woodworking as a hobby, so it doesn’t become a chore. I’d think once the excitement of “fun easy money and fame!” wears off, any normal person would start to think how much of the personal do they really want to share with the world.

    I also think the “memorializers” are always going to be that way. My most consistent memory of family vacations with my dad is always waiting for him to hurry up and take the damn pictures already. On the down side, he is no longer limited by the amount of film he is willing to buy; on the up side, each pic is less precious and requires less posing, because there will always be another. In a few more seconds.

    OTOH, I totally agree with this: “In memory tests given later, subjects showed higher recall for the objects they observed without using the camera.” This was my big discovery freshman year in art history. I usually just sat and listened to the lecture and watched the slides, jotting down maybe 2-3 lines of points. But one class I was so impressed by a friend’s multi-colored notes that I vowed to take detailed notes, and I covered pages (then gave it up as too hard). I found that particular class much easier to study for (for the others I had to go back through the textbooks and couldn’t always find the paintings that had been in the slide show, etc.). And yet when I got to the midterm, I remembered everything from the classes when I watched and listened, and *nothing* from the note-taking class. It hadn’t imprinted itself into my memory the same way.

  3. I am horrible at remembering to take pics-even with my phone camera which is ever present! I much prefer to be “in the moment” and enjoy things as they are happening, rather than sitting there watching it all through a lens-which definitely lessens the enjoyment. That being said, I am the first person to ask others who are present if they can send me the pics they have taken-because I do love having them and looking at moments captured from someone other’s perspective that I would have missed altogether.
    The one thing I do regret is not photo-documenting all the before pictures of previous house renovations- I have to try to remember to do this before my bathroom reno this spring.

  4. I find that with having a camera in my pocket constantly, it becomes too easy to get caught up in taking pictures and video. And with the ability to share them instantly, it can be hard to resist the temptation to take a pic and text it right away to show people whatever cool thing we are doing. Plus DW is always on me to take pictures, because she says I get better ones than she does. But I’ve been making a big effort to keep the phone in my pocket and just enjoy the moments.

    I used to be really bad at baseball and softball wanting DW to video all of the kids’ at-bats and pitching, and then I’d get annoyed because she didn’t do a good job of it. (I’m coaching so I can’t do it.) Then I got a GoPro last year and that’s been awesome. I put it on the fence/backstop at the start of a game and then forget about it (I just have to remember to get it after the game). I get the entire games so I can put together highlights for the teams, and I can also focus on the games and don’t think about getting video.

  5. We bought a video camera before my oldest DD’s pre-K graduation and we’ve watched that video 0 times. My phone is so terrible it barely takes pictures so we rely on my husband’s phone. He’s pretty good about taking a few pictures if we’re doing something special but that’s about it. And we’re terrible about printing the pictures out.

  6. And speaking of the Holderness Family, their latest video (I’m 40) is hilarious. “Ubering home at 9:20!”:)

  7. I was at a wedding once for a friend of mine who was a alternative film maker turned lawyer. She still hadn’t over come her film director thing, because she spent most of the wedding telling her very large video crew exactly how to set up each shot. When she walked down the aisle, no one could even see her because she was surrounded by 3 camera people and a sound guy!

  8. Getting little clips of kids at various stages is priceless. There is so much I can’t/don’t remember.

  9. I used to do a lot of still photography on vacations and for all the reasons cited in the article I stopped. I now have a pocket Panasonic with Leica lens for vacation photos. They come out great (I can make professional looking calendars from our adventure trips) but I whip it out for scenery and few we were there portrait shots. On the group trips there are usually a couple of photographers who love to post their thousand pix so I can get a key shot or two of something memorable. The smart phone, which I keep in a pocket or bag at my side, is more than adequate for snapshots or quick videos of kiddies or kitties doing something cute, or for documentation or copies. The parents of my grandchildren rarely take photos or videos, but of course we see them all the time. We never had video when the kids were small, and have the usual first kid large baby album and spotty record of anyone else.

  10. On vacation, I am an avid photographer and always have been. I like to take photos even when NOT on vacation. I got it from my father. When we went through his stuff after he passed away, we found boxes and boxes of photos he had taken – 100’s of the same mountain alone, shot on numerous visits. I am really glad we have all those photos because they remind me of things half forgotten.

    My biggest problem is that I take the photos, and then never finish doing the postprocessing. Unfortunately, I take photography too seriously to not do that step. I still have photos of China taken 4 years ago that are waiting for postprocessing

  11. I am pretty good about watching kid stuff without pulling out the phone for pics or video. I do not own a camera other than my iPhone, and I usually wait until the end to get a pic of DD with the teacher, co-stars, or whoever. What I regret, however, is that I rarely print photos or take the time to create memory books, calendars, etc with all the websites and apps out there that make it so easy. I guess I’m relying on Facebook to document all of my memorable moments!

    I have a friend who started taking video of his daughter’s dance recitals ~15 years ago and was able to turn it into a business to support his desire to buy all the latest equipment and software. He records all the local dance/theatre/talent show performances and sells DVDs to the parents. Of course, that means he has to sit through all those recitals, musicals, etc!

  12. My kids have long complained that I take too many pictures of them, but I’ve gotten better about snapping multiple quick shots on my iPhone that are bound to produce at least one good photo. And I’ve gotten more disciplined to put the phone away for periods of time to “enjoy the moment”, but I admit I’m usually tempted to get it out for “just one shot”.

    I regret not taking more videos of our kids. We were (typically I guess) very good at documenting the first few years of our older kid’s life with those old video cameras, and those videos are now very precious to us.

    My latest obsession is turning my iPhone Live photos into gifs using an app. They help tell the story behind the picture in a few seconds, and I can see them becoming more valuable as the years go on.

  13. I was going to quote all of Laura’s 10:38 post but I’ll let it go and just say “This!” Every Christmas Mom posed us just so on the couch and took endless snaps of us opening presents and smiling gamely. We had to have our hair brushed and pulled back from our faces (well, Dad had a crew cut.) So our albums show us growing up and then growing middle-aged in the same damn positions on the same damn sofa, kind of like Dorian Gray.

    AND I agree about note-taking! I’ve always been a bad note-taker because I was busy listening, dammit! Teachers would get so snotty and bossy about “Be sure you’re taking notes!” but I remember better when I’m actually paying attention.

  14. I’m in the middle – some weeks I don’t take any pictures, and sometimes I will take 100+ pictures of one event: a theater production DD is in, a field trip, vacation.

    At this point I don’t remember the beginning of any sentence by the time I’m halfway through it, so photos and video are my only hope.

    DH is much more likely to go through the files and point out when we have too few photos or videos of child #3, so that when we finally put them in albums we will be able to do one for him.

    That might get done in about 10 years :)

  15. My husband has a nice dslr camera and I really noticed the difference in quality when I was working with our trip photos to put together our photobook(s) from last summer. My cell phone takes decent photos, but in many cases we had similar shots, and his you could just zoom in and zoom in on when processing and the detail and clarity was still there. OTOH there are plenty of time when I have my cell phone with me, and his camera is at home.

    I do agree about keeping a balance between getting pictures and not seeing the entire event / trip / special occasion through a camera lens. Like others, I like to get some photos and then put it away and be in the moment.

  16. I like to take pictures of everyday events. Our favorite pizza place, the walk to school, etc. I also confess to having many, many pictures of the kids sleeping. So sweet! Such odd positions! All for the memories.

    Oddly though I am terrible at taking pictures during the holidays and other special occasions. I just forget.

    I have a friend who takes pictures, then looks at them, then re-poses us, repeat until photo is perfect. She has some really great pictures, but annoys everyone in the process.

  17. I had to make an effort to take pictures of our kids. Now, I take enough in a given year. I haven’t printed out pictures of every vacation either. My Christmas card picture which is taken outside in the fall is one which definitely does get printed so if nothing else I have that picture. When we were on vacation some people were so busy posing and positioning their selfie sticks that it seemed they had not a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the place. I was afraid one group would fall down the cliff into the sea.

  18. I mostly prefer to be in the moment, rather than worry about getting video or lots of pics. I do try to get a few photos from all of our trips and special days

  19. Milo – I read that article you linked on the previous post… hauntingly and sweetly sad. It’s the story of a truly displaced person.

    OT – I use my cell phone for short little videos. I rarely post them anywhere. Now photos are a different story. My son is conditioned to smile at a camera lens (phone, point and shoot, DSLR, anything). It makes my family crack up. He could be a beast crying and you pull out a camera and he instantly smiles. Does that tell you something???

    But I love photos and have tons of them. And I think I’m pretty good. My goal is to just have them and be organized (digital helps). But I’m not good with the post processing, and printing out for albums and sh!t like that. But I’m the go to person if you need photos for the family calendar. I think ~75% of the photos come from me. I also try to organize portrait style shots quickly and efficiently. Line everyone up, shoot a burst and pray. That makes my BILs happy (they hate photos).

    I don’t like my voice recorded. Recently I’ve been captured on videos of my son. Holy Mother of God, I sound exactly like my SIL. At least to me… DH doesn’t hear it.

  20. @Rhode – the best pictures of my kids were taken at daycare. They were trained to smile for the camera. The daycare also took care of the hard to capture sibling pictures. Now, DS doesn’t want to have his picture taken by me but is quite happy making videos of himself. I make him stay still for the Christmas card picture.

  21. “My Christmas card picture which is taken outside in the fall is one which definitely does get printed so if nothing else I have that picture.”

    Ah, CRAP, I never got my cards out this year! Dammitdammitdammit. The problem with rushing to the plane on 12/23 — I downloaded pics and my draft letter to my laptop to finish up in FL, then promptly forgot about all of it. Maybe I’ll send Valentine’s notes this year. . . .

  22. One problem with fumbling out my phone when a sudden picture opportunity arises is that I’ve been known to accidentally go into selfie mode when the camera function is being sluggish to open up. That’s how I ended up with the picture of me frowning with my tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth, the one my kids think looks like a derpy deer and my daughter has set as her lock screen.

  23. Like others here, I try to walk that line. I use my cell phone a lot just because it’s always with me, and it works well for snapshots. We took a trip for a long weekend and I remember just standing outside, watching the kids sled. Then I realized that *they* would want some photos (my oldest wants pictures of her “snow trip”) so I made sure to take a few at the beginning of each day and then put the camera away. We have some photos to trigger memories, and I didn’t spend the whole time behind a lens. I suspect most people don’t take it as far as the folks trying to turn it into income!

  24. LFB,
    We have friends who send out Thanksgiving cards every year. It really does add something to the card experience to be associated with another holiday.

  25. LFB – I received a birth announcement/New Year’s card this year. The baby was born in Nov.

    I switch between letters and photo cards. Last year was a 2 page letter written by the dog with pictures added into the narrative (we had a lot to cover in 2014). This year was just a simple vistaprint card with 4 photos – 3 on the front (DH, DS, and me; DS alone; dog alone dressed for Xmas), 1 on the back (DS’s birthday pic with the birth announcement). With the exception of the dog, the 3 front pics were taken on our Nov. trip to Chicago (at the Willis Tower).

    I did do one memory book for DS about his first vacation. I had a promo code for a free book through Shutterfly. I paid shipping. It was his Xmas gift. Every so often, he flips the pages to smile at himself, the little narcissistic punk.

  26. I order a Shutterfly calendar every year. It makes everyone happy to see the pictures. We are a picture-loving family, and our kids have been trained from an early age to smile for the camera.

    We now use mainly iPhones, but our picture collection is probably the most valued thing that we own. It’s the only thing I take with me (along with our laptops and some clothes), when we evacuate for hurricanes.

  27. “I received a birth announcement/New Year’s card this year. The baby was born in Nov. ”

    We did something similar. Any new parent that gets around to sending out announcements – at all – gets a hat tip in my book.

  28. I watched it, of course, but was forewarned that the intro episode was not considered actual entertainment. Tonight’s is supposed to pick up, and next week’s is a monster of the week episode by one of the best writers from the original show. Time flies at my age. The original show aired 20 years ago, before 9/11, and also before binge watching and on demand/streaming and everything that has changed the way we consume that sort of show. The episode with the sons and the mom under the bed still gives me the chills.

  29. “Yep, another episode tonight! I’m looking forward to it”

    Which show, X-Files or House Hunters?

  30. “Which show, X-Files or House Hunters?”

    I’ve never watched X-Files, but it’s clearly not House Hunters. House Hunters never changes. Nobody “looks forward to it.” It’s just something that’s on, and you watch vapid people pretend to shop for boring real estate. In so many episodes, I can hardly tell the three houses apart and I’m wondering what difference it could possibly make which one they pick.

  31. I’ve never watched X-Files, but it’s clearly not House Hunters.

    But wouldn’t it be cool if it were? “This week, a newlywed couple in Philadelphia decide between a split-level ranch with an extradimensional portal in the two-car garage, an Arts-and-Crafts fixer-upper with a spectral raccoon haunting the kitchen, and an upscale townhouse with granite counters and a giant master bath with a jacuzzi tub filled with tiny aquatic aliens.”

  32. “The episode with the sons and the mom under the bed still gives me the chills”

    Yes… vivid memories of that one…

    I’m looking forward to catching up tonight/tomorrow. I think we are going to keep the eps on the dvr, and then re-watch all 9.5 seasons this summer.

  33. consequently we will never live in a community with strict HOA rules… I don’t want to be eaten in the middle of the night.

  34. One reason that we watch so much HH is that is it safe for kids at any age. It is so easy because you know there isn’t going to be any violence, bad language or inappropriate situations.

    We’ve been having fun trying to figure out where the property brothers are this season since they filmed in Westchester and Fairfield counties. I totally lucked out with one house because an old high school friend’s BIL/SIL bought one of the houses in Fairfield country near Westport.

  35. There was a mom in my children’s school who filmed every d*mn event – and she had three daughters! I don’t know what they did with the endless cassettes/discs for 9 years of events. Once I teased her husband about the amount of films they must have in their home, and he indicated (nicely) that it was taking over!

    I see people videotaping their ride on a cable car. Why don’t they just look out and enjoy the ride?

    I will say that the videos that we do have of our kids are fun to rewatch now that they are so big!

  36. Have I posted this? My DIL liked it on FB so I suppose my stepson is an Instagram Husband.

  37. I love photos and try to keep up with actual albums containing printed photos. I am 18 months behind, but this is usually my road-trip project. I’ll do a massive shutterfly order sometime in the next few weeks, then put the pics and an empty album in the car, and happily pass 3 hours looking them over and organizing them.

  38. “The episode with the sons and the mom under the bed still gives me the chills”

    For me, it was potty man. Still messes with me in any kind of festival setting (yes, I do have to look first).

  39. @ Rocky – very funny.
    I thought about you cooking by yourself. Well, my Mom takes pictures of the dishes she creates and sends them to her friends and her sisters. Doesn’t post them to social media. I was surprised but it gives my Mom a lot of satisfaction.

  40. LfB- do you mean The Host or Squeeze? Both still freak me out. But most of the first two seasons weren’t mythology they were freaky stories.

  41. Sort of related drift: How do you back up your photos and videos? Are any of you with Amazon Prime backing up your photos to Amazon Cloud Drive?

    I’ve backed up photos to an optical disks and put them in our safe deposit box, but I’ve heard those don’t always hold up well over time, and it is a bit of a pain to go to the bank every time I want to to store a new backup. I also back up photos, as well as a bunch of financial records, onto a portable hard drive that I keep in a fire resistant box, but I don’t have a lot of confidence that those files would survive our house burning down.

    We just tried Prime for a month. The free two-day shipping was nice, but we were not impressed with their video offerings, and concluded it wasn’t worth the price. However, we might reconsider if we decided the photo backup was worthwhile.

  42. How does Prime work outside of the 48 states? How much longer does it take to get an item? just curious

  43. Finn, we have Amazon’s unlimited cloud storage for $60/year. Photos and videos on our various cameras/tablets upload themselves to the cloud. Photos taken with my husband’s camera still have to be transferred from memory card to computer and thence uploaded.

    Lauren, it’s not really 2 day shipping to here. It usually doesn’t take that much longer, but sometimes something won’t even show as shipped within the 2 days, which is annoying. I understand the shipping taking longer, but it seems like the least they can do is get the stuff sent out right away.

  44. Milo, you should binge the old x-files, I only watched it a handful of times when it originally aired ( I was 11 when the show started) but DH and I binged it on netflix a year or so ago

  45. and for fans of X-files, Twilight Zone shows, if you haven’t watched Fringe, you would probably like it. Again, I only saw it a few times when it was on TV, you really have to watch it in order for it to make sense (but there are also the weird stand alone episodes like on the x-files)

  46. HM: Thanks for the heads up. Unlimited cloud storage for $60 per year is something worth considering! I will bring it up to DH.

  47. I am about to pay to organize all of my photos in one place. I was thinking about Dropbox because I have my 2015 photos in there. I want to load all of my digital photos from the last ten years into one site. Does anyone have a favorite?

    90% of my photos are actually in shutterfly including my old Kodak Gallery, but I dislike using their site even though I seem to order everything photo related from Shutterfly.

  48. I learned the lesson about being in, rather than snapping, the moment early. I happened into a papal appearance and was so excited to get pix for my dad that I later couldn’t remember much of what he’d said. Otoh, being yearbook photog in HS was a nice way too feel less awkward at school events.

  49. @Lauren – let me know if you decide on a site. I should upload all my digital pictures to one site too.

  50. oops. wrong thread.

    Winemama – I’ve also never watched The Wire, so that’s two shows to try. I think DW may have watched a lot of the X-Files as a kid.

  51. @Mooshi – thanks for suggesting “Yes Chef” – it has been quite an interesting read. I find watching some cooking shows to be like watching House Hunters. I want to watch “America’s Test Kitchen”.

  52. When my kids were little (early elementary), they liked us to take videos of their school concerts. After the concert was over, we’d go home, eat ice cream and watch the video. (Yes, this was often painful for us parents, having to sit through the thing twice, but at least the ice cream was good.)

    We pretty much never watched these videos again until recently. We’re still in the same district, and probably 80% of the kids they graduated with were with them since kindergarten, so it’s fun to go back and see what all these kids looked like back when. Had I known then what we would ultimately appreciate about these videos, I would have zoomed in on the faces of all of the kids a lot more, instead of getting either the group shots where all faces were indistinguishable or the close-up of our own kid.

  53. “Had I known then what we would ultimately appreciate about these videos, I would have zoomed in on the faces of all of the kids a lot more, instead of getting either the group shots where all faces were indistinguishable or the close-up of our own kid.”

    A few years ago, I made a Christmas gift to my parents of converting to DVD all the 8mm projector film reels that I could dig up (Costco did it). This is Wonder Years style, without any audio. Some of these go back to the late ’40s.

    If I could send advice to the camera operator back in time, I would say to devote more of the film time to adults and not just young children.

  54. I buy one class picture of my kids and faithfully bought the cheapest soccer picture package every year. I don’t buy their yearbooks every year but did buy for end of elementary. I like having one or two school formal pictures but I don’t want to spend money buying a package with tons of the same picture.

  55. Lauren, at my office, our experience is that deliveries take an extra day, and that includes FedEx and UPS. E.g., two-day delivery takes 3 days to get here, especially during daylight savings.

  56. HM, how do you like the Amazon unlimited cloud storage?

    Looking into it a bit more, I see that the unlimited photo storage is $11.99 on its own (but included with Prime), but only includes 5G storage for non-photo files, including video.

  57. Finn, it’s working well for us now. Since personal computers have shifted so much to the model where it doesn’t make sense to back up all your software etc., what we’re wanting to back up is photos, music, files (tax, documents, etc.), and with the photos basically backing themselves up and the music that’s not already in the Amazon cloud library being easy enough to upload, it’s not hard to remember to upload the occasional PDF or word doc or Turbotax file or whatever.

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