Yikes. We're all in such a hurry it seems.
Rather than call or write a letter, we dash off a quick text or email. Rather than walk to our destination, we hurry onto the train or grab an Uber. It's quicker to order carry-out than spend time in the kitchen chopping or kneading or mixing. Who's got time to do a road trip? Flying will get you there much faster. Why waste your time strolling through a few stores to touch and try on sweaters when you can order one online quick, quick, quick?
I'm the first to admit I look for ways to get things done in an efficient manner so I can get more things done. But how much can we actually cram into a day before we lose sight of what it is we're actually doing?
One of the ways I remind myself to slow down is to photograph. But even then I have to be careful. Shooting digitally, it's easy for me to fall into the trap of firing away and looking later (I've read that, on average, we make ten times the number of exposures of a given subject or scene with a digital camera than we did when we were using film).
When I'm making pictures, I try to take myself back to the days when I had only 12, 24 or 36 exposures on a roll of film. (What that meant, of course, was that I needed to be deliberate in my choices, methodical in my practice.) With camera in hand, I try to breathe deeply and walk slowly. Often I'll just stand still and look around. Sometimes I look through my viewfinder and simply meditate a bit rather than make a picture.
Once after a family vacation, my sister, when looking at the photographs I'd made, asked me, "Were we even on the same trip?" That made me feel good, like I'd succeeded in slowing down and seeing things others hadn't. After all, that's one of my jobs as an image maker, right?
We can all benefit from slowing down, image makers or not. I know we don't always have the luxury of time, given the demands of work, kids, and other people's schedules, but we can certainly try to give ourselves the gift of "being in the moment" or "being present" periodically during the day. Look around, take a deep breathe, close your eyes for awhile and then open them again, take a walk, meditate. I think we'd all see more clearly, be more friendly, and open ourselves to wondrous possibilities if we only took the time.