Since the first time I got my hands on a camera, I’ve been recording what’s around me.
Since the moment I received a Barbie outdoor kids camera around the age of four, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a camera in my hands. At the time, I was unaware that all the photos and videos I was taking with my dad’s camcorder were the best way for me to capture memories of my childhood.
Some of these videos are movies I made of my stuffed animals, poorly choreographed dances with my childhood best friends or cringy elementary school talent shows, but in them is how I saw the world through a lens, starting at a young age. In a way, I’ve created my own archives that give my 21-year-old self a glimpse into how I viewed the world as a carefree child. Eventually, any silly video I made or blurry photograph I took has led me to want to do this for a living, on a more professional level.
Ultimately, having a career where I get paid to document the world we live in and tell people’s stories would be a dream come true. However, whether you always have a camera with you or you’re not even sure how to flip your camera around on your smartphone, you should be documenting your life now more than ever.
There is so much power in photography and videography. No matter what you believe, memories will come and go, and you’ll never be able to relive the same moment again. Photos and videos are the closest thing we have to reliving moments; they remind you of buried memories and show you how your life has changed over time.
Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, I think that we should still be aiming to make the most of every moment. I also believe that we should be recording all of it.
History is being made as we speak. Future students’ history lessons will be about the
the reality of the situation we’re currently living in. One day, I’ll be telling my grandkids how 2020 was completely unexpected. I’ll tell them how we all were advised to wear gloves and masks in public, how students were forced to switch to remote learning halfway through the semester and how working at a grocery store suddenly wasn’t ordinary anymore. But, they won’t be able to grasp the concept of all of this unless they see pictures and videos for themselves.
That selfie you took of yourself going out in public with a mask matters. The video you took of all the signs in the grocery store about how much toilet paper you’re allowed to buy and that hand sanitizer will be out of stock for who knows how long matters. A random video clip you take with who you’re self-quarantining with matters.
It doesn’t matter how often you verbally share stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, they won’t be as impactful as the photos and videos you show them. Let’s be honest, are they actually going to believe you if you tell them people started hoarding toilet paper?
In today’s world, we have so much technology that anyone can call themselves a photographer. So whether you actively take photos or not, I encourage you to start. Take photos of the empty stores, you wearing a mask or even the dinner you’re actually sitting down and eating with your family. Take videos of what you’re doing to keep yourself occupied and safe during these trying times. Whether you’ve been reading, binge-watching Netflix (Tiger King), playing video games or still having to go to work, document this. Even TikTok videos matter. Trust me, your grandkids will love to see them.
As much as we don’t want to accept the reality of our current situation, these moments are going to be demanded to be remembered and your loved ones will appreciate them.
Four-year-old me had no idea that the photos developed from my Barbie outdoor camera would matter so much. I didn’t know that the movie I made of my stuffed bunny being a movie star would lead to me wanting to be a documentary filmmaker. Every photo I’ve ever taken, every clip I’ve recorded is a piece of history. Every single one, even if it was a tad out of focus, matters. Every photo and video you’ve ever taken and will continue to take has such great importance to it.