Taking Photos of Moments You’ll Never Remember

T.S. Lowry

By all means, please take a picture when I look this drunk

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Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

We all have that friend who takes pictures or videos of every moment. Most of the time, it’s when we least expect it … like at 1 in the morning when we’re drunk at a bar.

I had one of those friends while studying abroad in Barcelona. This person took photos and videos of everything. He was also our turn-up person and his phone was welcomed as a result.

This isn’t a story about how people need to enjoy the moment and stop living said moment on their phones…

This was when Snapchat was still new, and before I was aware of blacking out. Sure, a few hazy nights here and there, but not yet reaching the point of my vessel taking full charge while my brain sat plays and countless hours out. I was 22 years old, soon to be nobody-likes-you-when-you’re 23. This was also during a time when I still wanted to work for ESPN, but knew a sportswriting job in California would be my first step (and it was).

I’ve never been a fan of people taking pictures and videos of me while I drink. Who is? Most of that comes down to a possible employer seeing those photos and me not getting a job. Or even worse, fired because of a photo that was taken outside of work.

My heart used to stop the next morning after a night of drinking when my phone was flooding with Facebook notifications, with the culprit being a picture I was tagged in.

“Ugh, what did I do now? Why the is someone tagging me in a photo?”

I jump out of bed, fiercely log into my computer, and go to Facebook to find a picture of my friends and me in a not-so-bad, damn-we-actually-look-pretty-good picture... Well, if you don’t count the drunk, I-can’t-believe-we’re-conscious eyes, that is.

(That’s one of the biggest issues with social media — it has become too social for me, which is why I ditched Facebook at the start of 2019.)

There have been times when friends have posted videos that would banish me from the internet today, or just embarrass me as they did then. Nothing illegal, just cringe-worthy. That’s the thing: Our nights are never really that bad. It’s just embarrassing to see a photo of yourself when you’re drunk, a photo you have no recollection of.

So why do we find ourselves taking photos of moments we’ll never remember? And if we don’t want to see these photos in the first place, then why bother?

...

On the last night of my study abroad program, the trigger-happy photo-taker, who everyone loved (I have to mention that because this person is one of those people you’ve always wanted to be friends with), took the stage at our final get-together.

He gave a speech that no one was expecting (at least I wasn’t) yet everyone would expect from him. That’s when this became real. When I knew I would never see some of these people ever again. We met unconventionally in Spain during a study abroad program. We lived all over America. We could have studied abroad anywhere in the world, or chosen not to, and at any time while we were in college.

What followed his parting words was a 4:37 video that captured the 3.5 months we spent in Barcelona. It included pictures, videos, and our favorite songs together, from Barcelona to Granada to clubs to casinos to university to birthday parties to beaches to airports to streets to the metro to restaurants to mountain tops (including the first picture taken of the group) to young people meeting up and doing young people things.

Whether there were visible tears or not, everyone cried.

What this person managed to capture was a montage of 3.5 months in Barcelona. And, frankly, all the picture taking proved to be worth it.

...

I’m still cautious when someone pulls out a phone while a drink is in my hand, as a possible picture could sink the ship that’s everything. But I’m starting to realize people take pictures when they’re drunk so they can remember.

And who knows, the outcome is anything from embarrassment to denial to regret to a montage of times you’ll never be able to recreate, with people you shared a small part of your life with at a faraway place. These photos remind you that, yes, this all really did happen.

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Just a guy who likes to cruise the aisles at the local 7-Eleven

Los Angeles, CA
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