Not even a year ago I was “that guy.” You know him, the guy that would ALWAYS have his camera-always. No one seemed to mind though because I would get pretty lovely candids of them since my camera child was never left to be babysat.

Enter Mysteryland, a music festival on the historic Woodstock grounds in Bethel, New York. I was given a free ticket to it this past June so I hit the road…without my camera. It was a choice I made for two reasons.

1- I didn’t want it to get ruined

2- I didn’t want it to get stolen

I figured I would feel naked, regret my decision the second I ventured out into this beautiful festival. The pictures and video would be amazing at these things! Especially with a low-light monster like the A7s.

I was completely wrong. By the end of it, I forgot I owned a camera. The experience was so overwhelming and tranformative (not a word), I’m glad I didn’t have something like that to distract me from the sights and sounds from going into my mind and thoughts instead of my lens.

Jump to a week ago, I was leaving for Atlanta to attend another festival, this time TomorrowWorld-the biggest US festival. This thing gets 160,000 people every day. Mysteryland had around 40,000 for reference. I brought my camera this time, thinking I would make a really cool 120fps “Faces of the Festival” video. Come Sunday night, I had taken two photos on it and they were in our tent. The festival was so great to experience without a camera I didn’t even need to convince myself not to bring my Sony along.

They have people for that

I never grasped this concept. I always thought my photos NEEDED to be taken. My perspective was different than theirs, maybe it is, but the truth is they have people for it. They have hundreds of photographers hired, a team of videographers as well. The festival has the people to capture the shows, the moments, everything you could want. No, they won’t be following you around to get your perspective, but you’d be surprised how good your memory is. Think you’ll forget it? Write it down later.

These festivals have made me realize something very important.

SEE IT FOR YOURSELF

Cameras are great, but from someone that now uses it every day to make a living, I see the balance that must be had. You can’t miss out on life because you want a cool picture for Instagram. You can’t miss being in that moment because you want a reaction shot.

Put your camera down, keep your cellphone away, and enjoy yourself. You’ll grow that way.