Participant/Observer

A thought just ran though my head that I felt like writing down.
Driving home from this past wedding weekend, I was thinking hard about memories vs. "living in the now." I thought about the difference between documenting something and participating in it. I think about this whenever I feel like I'm doing too much of one thing and not the other. At the last SXSW, in one 24 hour period I took something like 70 or 80 photos of people. Instead of meeting and talking with them I was documenting them, and I didn't feel at all like a participant. Though, throughout the wedding weekend, I was all participant, rarely stepping outside the participant role to document what was going on.
I took almost no photos, and didn't blog or write a single thing (didn't touch a computer until the last day and it was just to check email and to make sure metafilter was still working). I tried not to chronicle the event, and instead live it up and enjoy it. I figured others would do it for me (like the photographer). But looking back, and having little physical record of the event right now (photos are still being developed), it's almost like it didn't happen. It was all a blur, and I think I realized why I like photography so much. Keepsakes and physical reminders of memories are more important to me than I thought. Also, I realized most of the photos we'll get back will be staged, posed images meant to highlight how young and perfect we were that day. My memories aren't always like that, and I love seeing candid, natural shots from an event instead. I guess this is a roundabout way of saying I wish I took more photos last weekend, to help me remember how absolutely beatiful Kay was, and how wonderful all my friends and family were at the event. Years from now, it's going to be hard to remember much beyond what the photos we have show us.
What brought all this on in the first place? I read Zeldman's piece about his mom, and memory ties into it a bit. It also moved me to tears, and got me thinking about the importance of people, and memories of those people in my life.