As a kid, I wanted to work at a lighthouse for a living. Nothing beat sitting up there turning the mirrors, lighting the fires, and letting the salt of the sea blow in your face. That dream died quickly when modernization kicked in; ever since automation and GPSs arrived on the scene, the only purpose the humble lighthouse might serve today is nostalgia.
Nonetheless, that didn’t dampen my experience visiting one this summer. Right beside a beach in beautiful Rhode Island stood the antique Point Judith Lighthouse, where the light still burns for tourists. The lighthouse itself was off limits, but I did get to see one close up for the first time.
Okay, so here’s the serious part. When it comes to vacation, the first priority really should be the experience, the joy of physically being somewhere new. The memories are important, of course, but those shouldn’t overshadow the trip. That’s my complaint with recreational photography. The stereotypical American tourist wears a Hawaiian shirt, a sun hat, and an expensive camera around his neck that he uses every five minutes.
At some guaranteed time, he asks his friends to pose in front of some grandiose object (a lighthouse, for instance). Those friends stand there, ad lib a smile, stay still for a minute or so, and all the while anticipating the flash and trying not to blink during it. I understand it’s not my business, but those guys were on vacation; there’s better things to do than photograph something every few minutes.
I personally would rather sit down and enjoy the breeze than to wait for a shutter to close five times. For the next hour, I decided I would put down my cell phone camera and head to the beach, where the waves shimmered and the seagulls pecked at the sand. Enough pictures for today. It was time to see the world the way it’s supposed to be seen.
I also picked up a new seashell from the sand to add to my collection. Looks pretty, huh?