When it’s time to put the camera down.

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh. 
– A.A. Milne

I remember watching America’s Funniest Home Videos as a kid.

The show was at the height of its popularity as home video technology was just expanding to every household.

After one episode I recall the host making an announcement in a somber voice:

“Folks, we understand you want us to select your video to be on the show. But please, if a loved one is on the verge of falling or getting hit on the head, don’t get the shot. Put the camera down.”

I marveled that someone could be so engrossed in getting the shot that they’d neglect to warn their subject that they were about to be walloped on the head.

I love photography. But what if you miss part of the experience when you’re behind the camera?

Last week my parents came to visit me in Norway, and we went on a Hertigruten Fjord Cruise.

We started in Tromsø, which is 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. We then traveled south through the Lofoten Islands to the city of Trondheim.

It was without a doubt some of the most breathtaking scenery I’d ever seen. So I wanted to capture everything on film.

I clicked, and I clicked. Around every turn was another stunning landscape.

The midnight sun was over head, never setting. The air was pure and the cobalt sky framed the fishing villages and snow-capped peaks.

Every moment was a Kodak moment. Plus, I wanted to post a few shots to Facebook so that meant periodically swapping my Nikon for my iPhone.

On the second evening of the cruise we docked in the village of Svolvær, and I convinced my husband to do an overly-priced excursion of riding Icelandic ponies.


My horse’s name was Mjölnir, which means “Thor’s Hammer” in Norwegian. And as his name suggests, he was small, but big on power.

We rode on a pristine beach with the sharp peaks of limestone mountains rising out of the ocean. And even while riding Mjölnir, I kept snapping photos.

When we were back on the ship departing Lofoten, the midnight sun glowed low in the sky creating a mesmerizing outline of the majestic archipelago.

Then, without a drop of rain, a full rainbow appeared. It was perfect, bright, and spectacular.

I grabbed the nearest camera and started snapping like a mad woman.


In the midst of the snapping I heard a voice in my head say, “Stop. Experience. Enjoy.”

But I kept clicking. I didn’t want to miss anything.

Then I realized, I was missing the moment.

So I put the camera down. Not for long, but long enough to drink in the beauty that is now etched in my mind.

Photography is a beautiful art form, but sometimes the best memories are made when you put the camera down, or the remote control, or the iPhone.

The next time you’re on vacation or experiencing something extraordinary, I challenge you to put the camera down – or whatever else you’re holding on to.

Maybe the camera you’re holding is in the form of thoughts – regrets of yesterday or worries of tomorrow. Put them down.

I’m happy to have photos of my trip though the Arctic. But I probably only needed a few dozen, not the few hundred that I have.

I’m even happier to have my memory of that perfect rainbow. No photograph could have ever replicated its splendor.

Have you ever been lost in the moment? Experienced a perfect rainbow? When did you put your camera down? Post a comment below.

I’d also be ever so grateful if you shared this post with your friends. 🙂

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2 replies
  1. Jim
    Jim says:

    Every time I go scuba diving I tell myself I’m going to take less photography and soak up the moment more, but somehow that never quite happens, lol. There’s just so much spectacular awesomeness I’m compelled to capture. But your point is well taken. We take our memories with, not or digital files.

    • Allyson
      Allyson says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jim. I hear what you’re saying about there being “so much spectacular awesomeness.” (Well said!) I imagine it’s about balance? Professional photographers may say that they’re in the moment when they’re capturing things on film/video. I sometimes get this antsy feeling to get the perfect shot, and I definitely come out of the moment. 🙂 Thanks again.

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