word of the day: filter \ˈfil-tər\ a device that is used to remove something unwanted; holding back elements or modifying the appearance of something
I went a week without any filters on Instagram. I know. Radical.
In addition to no filters, I decided to only take one picture of any particular moment I wanted to capture. No exceptions.
I realized I was trying too hard to take the perfect picture on Lily’s birthday back in May. For the entire day, I tried to record her showing me how old she was on her fingers—a trick she had already mastered. An entire day. She wouldn’t do it once. I even had a video of her doing it a few weeks prior, but she wasn’t one then1, and I had this need for a live birthday shot. I literally turned all crazy mom on her as we kept trying. All day.
I finally put my phone aside and let her actually be a one-year-old on her birthday, but it really got me thinking about my need to post perfectly filtered pictures to my social media outlets.
And so, my personal challenge was born. Only the first picture of a moment. No added filter. Here are a few of the shots I got:
Not great. I didn't even post them all, quite frankly, because I didn't want to annoy all my Instagram followers with an onslaught of poor quality and blurriness.
On Monday, when the idea popped into my mind, I knew it would culminate with a piece of writing. I thought, though, that it would be a reflection of how I hide behind filters and only post these facades of the beautiful things I do all day. I thought I would compare the ratio of beautiful pictures I take of Lily to the blurry or screaming pictures I don’t take of her. I could write about that (it truly is a lot blurrier around here than filters allow), but that’s not really what the pictures taught me.
In my case this week, one take, no filter pictures told a better story. They had more emotions and more movement. They weren’t the result of a staged third attempt because I hadn’t quite captured the face perfectly the first time Lily made it. The picture was the moment and told the story itself.
They were better because they were worse (from a strictly philosophical stance).
But more importantly, I found myself enjoying moments more. I would snap one picture, then put my phone down and just watch Lily. It’s something I’ve been trying to do more anyway—take less real pictures and more mental ones. To be fully present in situations rather than trying to capture every awesome moment on film (because I could—Lily is awesome).
And what I’ve found is that when I’m taking mental pictures, I’m remembering the moment better because I’m actually present in it. I’m not just a prop.
So, I guess, here’s to being present. To living in moments rather than trying to capture them perfectly.
Lily’s not about that anyway.
1 She also had just woken up and her hair was a mess. Gasp.