If there's one thing I remember most from my childhood trips to Walt Disney World, it's the constant presence of cameras. There were the old ones with film, and yes, even slides, the point and shoot cameras I first used while learning the art of photography, and finally the digital varieties that we carry with us everywhere today, my iPhone included. I'm actually in the process of converting many of our old family videos from tape to digital, and it's sort of reminded me of the reason I walk around Magic Kingdom with a video camera in hand, even as a hurricane rolls in.
Earlier this year I went on a trip to Florida with the Knights on Broadway, which was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences I've had in my entire life. I visited parts of Florida I'd never been to before, I got to go somewhere warm for spring break, performed for donors of the college while watching the sun set over the gulf, and went to Walt Disney World with some of my best friends. In short, it was incredible, but I struggled a bit too.
For the past seven years specifically, I've taken the video camera (or at least a camera) with me pretty much everywhere. It came with me to the Twin Cities, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and of course, Florida. It feels almost wrong to be walking through a Disney Park without the video camera in hand now, but as we approached the KOBreak trip, a friend of mine suggested that I leave the cameras at home.
Their argument was entirely valid: leaving the cameras at home would offer me a chance to be "in the moment" with my friends instead of seeing everything through the lens of the camera, as I often do. I'd see everything through my own eyes and capture mental memories, and after all, there are plenty of moments where, even on a Disney vacation, we turn the cameras off and we bask in the moment.
Still, the thought of leaving the cameras behind was hard for me. As I mentioned earlier, my family never travels without a camera, and it's absolutely become a part of the Disney tradition for me, stopping every five minutes to take a picture of something we probably already have pictures of. Plus, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd regret not bringing them along. Yes, I'd take mental pictures, but what happens when those start to fade? Would I truly remember some parts of our day at Epcot as clearly as I remember so many of the spectacular experiences cataloged in my vlogs? Probably not.
And while it's not what he intended at all, the suggestion felt as though they were asking me to give up a part of myself. I take pictures and film videos at Disney World not because I feel like I owe it to anyone, but because it's what I love to do. Can I have fun at WDW without the cameras? Yes, of course! I ended up leaving them behind after all and still had a wonderful time, but because of how I grew up, with a video camera capturing everything from my smiling face to my temper tantrums, having a camera around is second nature. Filming every waking moment in a Disney Park isn't for everyone, and maybe it wasn't for him and that's where the suggestion came from, but in the long run, I won't be separated from my cameras for too long, and it all boils down to this:
As I watch the videos from my childhood, there's nothing I love more than reliving the memories behind them. Memories I've since forgotten. Truth be told, they'd be lost if not for the videos my dad took, and that's exactly why I love being a photographer (and videographer). That's why I keep filming even after I can't feel my hand from holding the camera too long. That's why I willingly lay down on the ground next to a cockroach to capture the perfect shot. That's why I sprint to the nearest building in an attempt to protect my camera from the pouring rain, and immediately turn the camera back on to show how much it's raining.
My friend didn't understand that standing behind the camera isn't about missing out on the moment itself, because you're there living it too, and you're also preserving that moment for years to come. It's never been abut the hassles of carrying the camera or the continuous "in your face" feeling. It's always been about making memories. Taking pictures, and making memories.
Have a magical day!
(Bonus points if you caught the vintage Epcot reference)!