Experiencing Life Doesn’t Happen Through Your Lens

As we get older, we experience more things in live. We experience more good times. We experience more tough times. Recently my mother in law’s journey with cancer came to an end, only six short months after we celebrated my wedding to Matt.

It’s interesting (and in a way sad) that it takes death for us to really focus on what is important in life and what experiencing life truly means. Jo from The Luminous Kitchen shared a Ted Talk from Penny De Los Santos that I watched just before she passed. Although Penny stated the talk about moving food assignments she has been on, she closed her discussion with what life means to her:

Life is a collection of moments. Some big, some small. To experience a true moment, you need to connect. Not connecting is not seeing and not seeing is not living. There are some moments that are not supposed to be photographed they are supposed to be lived. These are the moments that live in our minds eye forever.

Experiencing life, and living, is being present, present to that moment, present to the experience. This doesn’t happen through a lens.

Two-Loves-Studio-Experiencing life doesn't happen through your lens

Two-Loves-Studio-Experiencing life doesn't happen through your lens



Photography can be obsessive, and not just for those of us who are professionals. Today, so many people enjoy photography on a number of levels (and that is brilliant don’t get me wrong). I mean, 80 million images are uploaded to Instagram each day! That is astounding to me. Do all of those moments really need to be captured? Are they being lived?

This is something I have thought about for a few years now and has shaped my approach to photography. Rather I make time for photography, and don’t snap away those occasions where I am sharing a meal with loved ones to be shared on social media. It is also one of the reasons I go quiet on social media when I am on holidays or visiting family in Canada. I try my best to live those experiences.

I wrote a guest post on an travel blog called Thirty Summers last month on ‘Why a 30 Summers Moment Doesn’t Happen Through a Camera Lens’. (What is a 30 Summers Moment? Find out here). In a time where ‘taking pictures’ has become a part of our everyday lives, and we are expected to document our every move on Instagram, where you see everywhere you go more and more people living life through their iPhones, I wanted to share Penny’s Ted Talk with you all and remind you to truly connect, to see and to live.

This isn’t about not capturing moments with loved ones, but rather ensuring you are also making time to experience them.





In April 2015, Matt and I travelled to the Philippines for a friends wedding and while we took a short trip to Alona Beach on Pangloa. It was a food photographer’s dream. White sands, pastel coloured sunsets, fresh produce and seafood sourced from the local waters, open barbecues and locals obliging to cook their wares every which way. Yet, I did not capture one meal we had there together or one sunset we watched as we ate. There is nothing I enjoy more than eating good food with those I love. (The absolute icing on the cake is to do that on the beach of a tropical island with a few cheap beers under my belt). I was truly present, I lived those moments.

As important as photography is to me, I do not want it to become at the expense of really living and experiencing moments with my loved ones.

The best ‘images’ are ones I didn’t capture. They’re the ones that live on in my minds eye. The ones I was fully present for. The ones I truly lived without my lens.


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  • Reply Pang February 18, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s imperative to TRULY BE with the loved ones at the moment we want to remember forever. And I am so sorry for your lost, Rachel. xoxo

    • Reply Rachel March 8, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Thank you Pang. I’m sure you feel like this whenever you visit family back in Thailand.

  • Reply Aysegul February 22, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss Rachel. Sending you my heartfelt condolences.
    I agree with you on the obsessing part when it comes to taking that great shot. And Penny de LosSantos’s speech is one of my top 5 TED Talks of all times. <3

    • Reply Rachel March 8, 2016 at 8:18 am

      Thank you Aysegul. I’ll bet she is. She is so amazing.

  • Reply Jo February 23, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Big love to you Rach for this post and I hope you and Matt are doing ok.
    I agree so much with what you’ve written. Corey and I love capturing some of experiences and we make a very conscious decision before we even think about what we’re cooking as to wether its to enjoy or to capture. These photos in this post are incredible!! What a colorful place and you captured it perfectly.

    • Reply Rachel March 8, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Thank you Jo! We are, just living one day at a time. It is great you two are on the same wave length. It can be hard when you want to share more with your readers to. Balance is key to remember for sure.

  • Reply Karene' February 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Oh this is SO true! There is so much connection lost when you have a black box between you and your kids or your loved ones! We went on an incredible holiday to Sardinia, and I packed my camera away for the entire holiday, except for 2 days where I told my family, that I would take it along to document a snippet of what we’d experienced. That way we got a some photos to jog our memories of the beautiful scenery, but the rest is written in our hearts. Not every moment needs to be photo documented.

    • Reply Rachel March 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Sounds like the perfect plan Karene! Recently in Canada we made time to take some shots on two days only. All we need really because it is quality over quantity and what would we do with all those photos anyway?

  • Reply Kristi March 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    This is a wonderful post! I follow you on Instagram, and I’m impressed that you don’t post daily, especially given that you are a photographer! As a blogger myself, I have been told countless times that I need to post multiple times a day, but that rarely feels right. I dig your approach – it’s a great example for the rest of us.

    • Reply Rachel March 9, 2016 at 11:05 am

      So glad you got something out of this post. I am intrigued by this, that you have been told you need to post multiple times a day. It is such a fascinating tool and I have been reading a lot on Insta at the moment and have totally changed my mind on how my feed is and how I will post. I will see how it goes and maybe do a post on the blog about it! Would love to see your reading on this if you have any links you can share.

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