Instantly disappointed in paradise

Hard to believe I’m even writing about this, but it’s true. The tourist beaches of Hawaii were littered with disappointed people, looking sullen and staring into their phones.

It was UNBELIEVABLE the number of people that we had to walk around, dodge, or avoid on Waikiki Beach, because they were solely engaged with their phones. These tourists were taking selfies and trying to CRAFT happy vacation photos but letting their phones get in the way of actually enjoying themselves. And they themselves were oblivious to the other tourists trying to walk around or actually enjoy the beach.

Sunset was the worst time of the day. 

These people couldn’t even be bothered to look up between taking and viewing their own snaps. This wasn’t exclusively on the beach either, it was a hazard on the street and even hiking paths too.

There were girlfriends barking at their boyfriends. “Do it again.” “Take another.” “That’s awful! Delete it.”

And girls scowling at people for walking through “their shot” on a crowded public beach or on the narrow hiking path. I saw their non-stop scowling between forced selfie smiles….I’m sure that has to be exhausting.

I saw bathing suits chosen for photos, not for swimming. Hair done for Instagram, not for a day in the water. Makeup done for a party, not a mountaintop. Posing everywhere. What I didn’t see was participation.

I’m writing this because it bothered me to see hoards of people, instantly disappointed in their photos, and thus their own vacations, when they could be having the time of their lives.

They were standing like pylons in the road, glaring into & tapping at their phones, everywhere, in paradise! They had looks of sadness, disappointment, anger and frustration on their faces. While they stood there, toes in the sand, in paradise they had….. in that very moment ….. EVERY opportunity to turn things around and be happy but instead they choose to delete & try to rewrite a perfect lie with another photo. Over and over and over.

I feel bad for them. What are they disappointed in? How they look? (That in itself is tragic) The lousy time they are having? (They have the power to change that.) Disappointing likes per minute? Are they just photo blind to the real world? Why not be happy with yourself and do things that are fulfilling! Run into the ocean. Build a sandcastle. Get your hands wet, and sandy. Splash your friend. Chase your kids. Go surfing. Enjoy Hawaii!

I’m assuming they worked hard (and paid) for their vacation. I wish they understood the value of ‘vacation’ to their mental health. Now, and into the future, memories can really keep you going when you hit the (genuinely) bad days. It’s not what someone said in the moment, right? It’s how it made you FEEL. We’re human. Feelings matter. You should really enjoy vacationing. It feels good! Photos are only good to capture that FEELING and hold on to it. Spontaneous photos that don’t stop the action, but just capture a genuine moment in time, those are great photos.

So, frankly, I think they should be disappointed not in their crafted photos but in the (lack of) participation in their own lives. There. I said it. That’s my point. I think you suck at participating in real life when you stand like a pylon in the middle of the beach making and deleting fake smiles and yelling at your loved ones for not taking good enough photos. Are you making genuine vacation memories or merely crafting photos? Do you understand the difference?

Do you know who’s NOT disappointed in paradise? Little children and old folks. The little kids are screaming, splashing, swimming, running, and giggling with not a care in the world! And seniors… whether they were walking hand in hand with a spouse, or sitting and chatting it up with friends. They are smiling, talking, looking around and taking it all in. They looked like they were genuinely enjoying their holidays.

Think I’m exaggerating? No, I’m not. Next time you are at a concert or fireworks event, look around to see who is enjoying the music or wide-eyed by the colours exploding in the sky. And then look who’s just holding up their phone, posturing for the best angle.

Little kids and old folks. Seems to me, they’re the ones winning at life right now. Why? Because they are participating in it.

Tips and Tricks: Get more family photos on vacation

Does your teen resist vacation photos? Do your kids make silly faces? Do you wonder why you ever bother?

My answer to this is the selfie scavenger hunt.

It’s this easy.

Step 1: (Before you leave on vacation.) Hey guys… what do you think we might see on vacation? Let’s brainstorm and make a list.

Step 2: (The day the vacation starts) Pull out that list. Make teams. Introduce the game. “First team to get selfies with 6 of the things on the list, wins souvenir t-shirts.”

If your family is competitive like mine, they’ll be racing around, eyes wide open, taking it all in. Big grins and laughing all around. AND, you’ll have a bunch of fun selfies to cherish.

Should I take a camera?

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Should I take a real camera on my vacation? Is it worth the hassle, the effort and the expense of having a second device when my iPhone is always in my hand?

In my opinion, yes. For three reasons:

1) if it’s a once in a lifetime vacation, photos of your kids or your parents, you need quality prints of these treasures.

2) iPhone cameras, even the latest generation, do not take a photo that can print greater than 4×6.

3) Have you ever known anyone who lost their phone? And it wasn’t backed up. Yeah, that.

 

 

Do your photos reflect your memories?

The thing about travel photos is that they don’t tell the whole story. The true story gets muddled even further when those photos are prepped for Instagram. This isn’t a slam on Instagram, far from it. I think that global photos bring us a brighter more accurate picture of what the world has to offer. And it’s absolutely your choice to pick what you share with the world, and in what form

My point is this, are you tainting your own memories when you enhance or only share the perfect photos? I want to make my case by showing you a series of photos that I took at La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California.

I’m in love with this first photo. I think it’s spectacular. My money shot. But it doesn’t accurately reflect my experience.

 

This sweet baby was huddle in the centre of the pod.
This sweet baby was huddled in the centre of the pod. His eyes were open for mere seconds. Taken with my Canon 510s. This photo is completely unedited. I haven’t even cropped it, though I did consider cropping out the scar of the other seal in the right corner, however, I think it shows his age and life marks and they are an appropriate contrast to the seal pup.

 

Taking a step back, you see the whole pod of seals as they lay on the beach.

The photo was taken around 11am that day.
The photo was taken around 11am that day. Don’t they look peaceful and relaxed?

 

Let’s take one step further back. But still make sure the shot is tight and deliberately angled.

Here I am posing for a quick photo with my new friends. I love this picture. First time I've ever had the chance to pose with seals.
Here I am posing for a quick photo with my new friends. I love this picture. First time I’ve ever had the chance to pose with seals. (Unedited)

 

Same pod of seals, same beach, less than two minutes later than the above photos. Completely different picture of the experience, isn’t it?

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This one is taken from 4 paces back and a different angle, purposefully to show the crowd of visitors assembled. The seals are notable unhappy after a few folks got too close. Hipstamatic lens used to show the mood.

 

This last photo is shown from the viewing platform at street level, about 5 minutes after the first photo (of the baby) was taken.

Quite the group isn't it? On a Monday in January.
Quite the group isn’t it? On a Monday in January. Can you still see the seals in the centre?

 

My memory of this moment during the vacation, is of the big picture, the crowds and the whole perspective. However, I do still get lost in the moment of the baby seal and his soft eye when I look at it. An entirely different feeling about that day. And while I have already shared a couple of the seal photos on my Instagram feed, I have withheld the photos of the baby feeling that it was intimate and a real treasure, personal to my experience and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share it with the world.

So, which picture is the “right” one to share?  What view of the scene do you relate to? Which of these pictures is the true reflection?

I’d love to hear your comments! Please share.