Could you take 100 photos?

Not now. As in 100 photos ever. All up.

I’m having a city break in Madrid this weekend and have spent most of the day walking around seeing the sights. And just like every other place I’ve visited, as soon as there’s something remotely interesting, everyone gets their phones or cameras out.

Have you ever heard that theory on lines? That if enough people line up, others will join even if they don’t know what they’re lining up for. I’m certain the same applies to photographs. There’s a sense of fomo, irrespective of what the thing is being snapped. If people are taking photos it’s our default reaction to think it must be worth snapping, and so we do.

I walked past a girl having her photo taken today and her friend asked “do you want that statue thing in the background?” She glanced over her shoulder to see what it was and replied “oh yeah I guess so!”

I couldn’t help but think how silly it seemed posing for a photo when you didn’t even know what you were standing in front of. It’ll just be another picture added to the digital pile that never really gets looked at.

It got me thinking, if I was only allowed to take 100 photos in my entire life, I wonder how that would change my experience of travel, parties, events, anything really. And of course, I wonder what they’d be of.

There were a few moments that jumped out as definite keepers. The peak of Yosemite, the peak of Concepcion (theme being established already), my graduation, my first half marathon; all the things that really mark an incredible ‘moment’ in my life.

I also thought of all the times where great stuff has happened but I didn’t have a photo of it. Either because I couldn’t or it wouldn’t have done it justice. Things like the amazing mango juice I had in Cuba (which despite how silly it sounds is one of the best memories in my life) or the first time I went scuba diving and the go pro camera died.

In these instances, I almost like that I didn’t have a photo because unlike ‘moments’ I wanted to mark, they were experiences that were a lot more fun to tell and remember in my mind. And that was the interesting observation I took away from the whole thing; the distinction between an experience and a moment, and the different ways we document each. A photograph, while default, isn’t always the best means.

I love photos and I don’t think this idea of only being able to take 100 would be particularly enjoyable. But as an exercise in thinking what I might take if I had a lifetime quota, it was kind of interesting. It really made me consider what the moments are that I am glad to have down in film, and it cast a new light on all the stuff that’s a bit peripheral, or perhaps is fine to rely on old fashioned words to tell and remember.

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