Into the Archives // Glacier and the Power of Photography

One of the things I love most about photography is its ability to make me focus. Like nothing else, the act of looking for a photo turns off the internal chatter. Suddenly I'm there, present, in the moment. 

Last summer was simultaneously the beginning, midpoint, and end of a lot of things that mattered to me. It was the sort of time in life you'd kind of like to be there for. But in response to the change and uncertainty, I spent so much of that time dancing between what had happened and what might happen next that I rarely really lived in the here and now. Instead of the rich memories I'm used to making, I ended up with thinner recollections, muddled and full of holes. 

The exceptions are, surprise, the times I pulled out my camera. And yes, of course it's easier to remember events and feelings when you have a physical record; photos can be, wonderfully and woefully, conduits to the past when free recall fails us. But, as I've said, there's more to it: though I didn't realize it last summer, the act of taking photos planted me back in the present, even if only for a short time. And even if I had never bothered to look at the final images, I imagine the act itself was enough to create memories that otherwise might not have formed. 

Today's series, taken just over a year ago in Glacier National Park, so perfectly illustrates that for me. I rarely look at the photos themselves, for whatever reason. But when I feel a little out of touch, I go back to Glacier in my mind, to revisit the moments of clarity and perspective I felt as I considered the world around me, camera in hand. I'm so thankful for memories like this – for what I've gained (or what I've kept myself from losing?) by taking photos. 

So, I guess what I'm saying in a very roundabout way is this: We are often told, by some unnamed, nebulous something that in order to live in the moment, we must put away our devices. But sometimes, the device is the vehicle to the moment; it's when you pick up your camera that you finally see.  

Want more from the Into the Archives series? Head this way for earlier posts (they're less emotional, I promise!): 

Instalment 4: Into the Archives // Glacier in Blue

Instalment 3: Into the Archives // Mom on PEI

Instalment 2: Into the Archives // France on Film (The 'Oops' Edition)

Instalment 1: Into the Archives // A New Series of Old Photos