Don’t blame photographers for their obsession. Blame the inventor of the camera.
Priests or celebrants officiating at a photographer’s wedding should also add to that vow of never-ending support in sickness and in health, one of understanding their partner’s obsession with sudden pit stops when travelling.
You see, it’s in most photographers’ DNA to photograph scenes that others pay little or no attention to. Photographers make visual sense of the world we live in, and those images are sometimes used to illustrate a story in the present, or will be used to illustrate something that once was in years, decades and centuries to come.
So, to all those people who have the good fortune to travel with one of those photographers who seemingly inexplicably pulls over to photograph an old rundown service station, or a lone tree on a vast, barren plain, or simply the road ahead because it looks better than the previous road they stopped to photograph a few miles back, try to resist the temptation of asking them upon re-entering the car, “Did you get the shot, darling? Oh fabulous. Now, can we actually get going because it would be nice to see Aunty Beryl on her 90th birthday rather than the day after her 90th birthday?”
It’s worth quoting here the great British actor Bill Nighy who, on a recent visit to Australia said, “An experience isn’t complete until it’s somehow been recorded.” Now those of us who know better know what Bill really meant was, “A scene isn’t complete until it’s been photographed.”
To that think of any major event and the number of people you see pointing their smartphones at it. This is not say that we should all experience life through a viewfinder. By all means, live for the moment and soak in whatever it is that excites you. And if you manage to capture a few frames (or a few minutes) on your digital device then you can happily share the moment and/or re-live it in years to come.
The same goes for seeing a beautiful landscape, or a spectacular sunrise or sunset, or just something that’s plain odd. A common occurrence when hopping out the car and looking for the best vantage point is discovering you’re treading a well-worn path made by countless others who’ve appreciated and photographed the same scene.
However, not everyone gets to see everything that’s interesting or beautiful or just plain odd. So rather than greet your photographer friend with sarcasm upon their return to the car, thank them for the joy they will one day offer to people more appreciative of a photo of a dilapidated old train station in the middle of nowhere. But you can tell Aunty Beryl it’s not your fault for being late.