“Jade, are you okay?” my friend asked me while we were touring the BenCab Museum. “You’re not taking photos. Are you bored?”
I assured him I was not. And I really wasn’t.
It was the first time I traveled with these particular friends. It’s said that you learn a lot from each other by traveling together, and I think I learned more about them during the few days we stayed in Baguio. I think we’ve become better friends because of it.
But it is interesting how incessant photography has become so ingrained in our experience that not taking travel photos can be seen as an oddity, a sign of boredom.
There were several reasons why I opt not to take a lot of photos while in the museum. The first one being I’ve already been there before. I had already taken some photos from that place previously and that the first view exhibits we saw were exhibits I had seen before.
The second time seeing them gave me the opportunity to appreciate the art works without the need to immediately document them. I could stand and look at the Cordilleran statuettes, see their texture and the shadows, feel the craftsmanship in a way that I cannot experience when looking at the flat images.
And that was my second reason: In our hurry to photograph everything (or ourselves next to everything), we probably don’t take enough time to appreciate what we are looking at. It is a little ironic how we are quick to share what we see to our friends and to the world but we hardly take time to even look at these things as more than subjects of our photos.
There was a time when I, too, would quickly draw my phone to take photos whenever I go to a new place. I still do that sometimes. But then, I thought about why I travel and why I take those photos. It’s about the experience, my experience, and how I would like to share that to others. Simply pointing my camera and firing away does not allow me to experience anything and when I look back at those photos, I could not connect to them anymore.
The last reason why I wasn’t taking photos in the BenCab Museum was because I was remembering the last time I was there, and who I was with. I was withdrawn and quiet, and my friend thought I was bored. Baguio in general, and that museum in particular, holds a lot of fond memories for me. I was a little sad.