Why You Shouldn't Take Photos of Rainbows

Why You Shouldn't Take Photos of Rainbows

Why do we take pictures of rainbows?

Driving home today I noticed a beautiful rainbow. While I have seen rainbows before, this specific one was interesting because of how close it felt.

At the next stop light I was marveling at it once more, when some commotion in the cars next to me caught my eye. I noticed several cars with phones out the windows, taking a quick picture of the rainbow.

I counted 8 different people around me with their phones out taking a picture.

But why do we do this?

We feel like it checks a box. We have captured the moment.

But have we?

It has become instinctual to take a picture of anything that feels important. But in doing so, we take ourselves out of the moment to worry about the photo and end up either missing the experience entirely, or degrading it because we are pre-occupied with the photo. Ultimately, these photos are never looked at again, and they don’t capture the humanity of the moment.

Here’s a picture of a rainbow.

Boring Rainbow Photo

What do you feel when you look at this picture? Probably nothing. It’s just a picture of a rainbow. While rainbows are beautiful, the essence of them is not captured in a photo. The beauty of a rainbow is in the moment, in the experience and the feeling of seeing it. The surprise, the wonder, and the people you experienced it with.

Are you feeling guilty right now because you’re one of those people that takes pictures of rainbows?

Go find that picture right now, come back here when you’re done.

I’ll wait…

Can you even find the picture? If you did manage to find it, what did you feel?

Probably nothing, right? It’s just a photo of a rainbow like you see above. The photo could be of any rainbow, it doesn’t capture the essence of the moment when you saw it. Furthermore, you aren’t going to share this photo with anyone else, they aren’t going to care. They have seen a rainbow before, and the time they saw one, it was precious not because of the rainbow itself, but the experience of seeing it. Your rainbow is meaningless to them.

So how do you capture the experience of a rainbow? Well you can’t. Not everything in life can be captured. Some things are meant to be experienced and savored.

By reaching for your phone to take the photo you miss out on the experience. You miss out on the moment. You miss out on admiring the beauty of the world around you. You miss out on the feeling of wonder and awe that comes with seeing it. All because you wanted to take a picture that no one, not even yourself, will care about a few days from now.

Next time you see a rainbow. Don’t take a picture of it. Admire it, soak it in, but don’t take a picture of it. Remember that not everything in life is worth the photo. Some things are meant to be experienced and savored.

Why do I care about your rainbow photos?

Whenever I see something amazing happen, I am sad when everyone’s reaction is not to take it in, but to take a picture of it. I go skiing and everyone wants to take a photo of the cool landscape. While the experience is incredible, it is better to sit there and soak it in. Take a few extra minutes to enjoy and remember the moment. Think about what you are feeling and what brought you there. Most people react by taking a quick picture and then feeling like the moment is captured and quickly running on to the next thing. Some might even post it on Instgram as a way to “brag” about their experience. But they never actually experienced it. Seeing something isn’t experiencing it. Soak it in, remember it, experience it.

Generally speaking, I think we should all take a step back and think about what we are doing when we take a picture.

Uusally, pictures with people, or even ourselves can be worth it. But photos of landscapes and rainbows are not. Be honest with yourself, you will never look at that photo again. And you spent your precious time in the moment, focusing on taking the photo and thinking about how many fake internet points it will get you when you post it on social.

Don’t let your life pass you by. Don’t let the moments that matter slip away because you were too busy trying to capture them.

© 2024 J. Alexander Curtis (Jacurtis)