Are you experiencing life or documenting it?

We have taken a few photos on our trip, don't get me wrong. Like when a jazz trio strolls to your table at Commander's Palace brunch and serenades you? That seems photo worthy.

One of my favorite little jazz bars in New Orleans is a place on Bourbon Street called Fritzel’s. They  offer traditional jazz with no cover, and while some might find it a bit corny, I can’t imagine not tapping my toe and smiling every time I’m there.

On one recent visit, I was bobbing and weaving to see the band because so many people in the front rows were holding up cameras to take pictures or video.

If you’re sporting a press pass at the royal wedding, I can understand documenting every moment. That’s your job.

But with 5 million photos uploaded to Flickr as of last fall, and 35 hours of video uploaded on YouTube every minute, what about the rest of us? We amateurs and semi-amateurs are creating and posting more content than it seems anyone could possibly keep up with.

TechCrunch reported last fall on Eric Schmidt of Google saying:

Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until  2003, according to Schmidt. That’s something like five exabytes of data, he says.

Let me repeat that: we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.

The real issue is user-generated content,” Schmidt said. He noted that pictures, instant messages, and tweets all add to this.

Also photo worthy: spending Easter morning with John's college roommate and his family on Bourbon Street.

Yes, yes. I realize I’m writing about the tsunami of content drowning us all in my own blog, which I’ll then post to Facebook and Twitter. I’m fully aware this is a pot-kettle moment.

But this weekend I’m pondering less the impossible nature of consuming everything that’s out there and more the reasons we feel the need to put it out there in the first place.

Long before digital cameras and the Internet, we loved to take vacation photos and share them with friends. Just about every old sitcom has some joking reference to the neighbors inviting friends over for their slides of Hawaii or some such.

But when we no longer had to pay for film or developing, no longer had to wait for our friends to come over to unleash the photos of something fun we did, it seemed to increase exponentially. Now it’s not a few rolls of film from your honeymoon, it’s several hundred images from your weekend hike.

John and I dressed up for Easter, and we so rarely remember to get a photo of both of us -- instead of one of us taking a picture of the other -- that this seems worth sharing. Plus we're kinda cute here.

And here’s my biggest question: if you’re spending the entire time documenting an experience, are you actually having the experience in the first place?

We are taking some photos and some videos of our time in New Orleans, but typically it’s one or two. John started a practice of getting one picture of every band we see, which was going reasonably well until our camera died. Now we’re getting some on my BlackBerry, but the quality is as good as you’d expect.

Which means we’re mainly spending our time in the moment, really experiencing it in the first place. And it means we’re unlikely to force everyone to come by our place for hurricanes and travel photos. However if you’d like to hear some stories from memory, John is quite the raconteur.

Meanwhile, here’s one Flip cam video I’ll share — Freddie Lonzo, trombonist of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, sitting in with New Orleans Bingo Show at One Eyed Jack’s. Lead singer Clint Maedgen seemed so tickled that his Preservation Hall bandmate Freddie came by and was playing with them, I had to capture it, but mainly so Bingo would have it for their scrapbook.

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Categories: creativity, lifestyle

3 replies

  1. I have the opposite problem: I’m having such a good time, I forget to take pictures. I’m so grateful for the pictures I do take – for someone with a crappy memory, they fill in the gaps!

  2. Sometimes my favorite part of a trip is sitting in one place for hours and watching. It’s like taking in a movie.

  3. I take a lot fewer pictures these days. Sometimes, I just want to BE.

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