We live in a world where image is king. Whether it's the billboards we look at while driving, the thousands of new images available to view every time we open our Instagram app or the photos on the news sites and magazines we read––there's visual stimulation in every corner of the world. This isn't new, but the recent rise of social media has given everyone access to digital tools to capture memories in a photo format and share them with large online audiences––an exciting new avenue for all of us to get creative, communicate with like-minded people, and simply express our artistic selves.
But then again, there's always two sides to every coin. As social media became more and more popular and many of its users rose to fame for sharing highly curated and filtered imagery, we all started to have slightly different standards about what the pictures we capture should look like.
I, for one, certainly found myself discouraged from snapping and sharing the usual casual imagery I was used to capturing whenever I found myself in a nice location or in good company. I felt that my images failed to measure up to the polished snaps that some of my peers were sharing on the various social media apps––either the angle was unflattering, the light wasn't good enough, or my posing was awkward.
But all the while we are comparing ourselves to those around us, we're missing out on the opportunities that are right in front of us: in this case, creative expression and holding onto treasured memories.
After coming back home from many joyful trips with barely any pictures to share with my loved ones back home, I realized that I was missing out on properly capturing some of my happiest memories and being able to look back at them––and there's nothing quite like being able to look back at pictures from the past, return to those happy moments, and feel joy and gratitude for having had the luck to live through them.
Even if you don't have a natural inclination for photography or consider yourself a total newbie, make a point to start capturing your life and keeping a visual diary from your travels, special occasions like birthdays and friends' weddings, but also small, everyday moments. It could be anything from a beautiful sunset captured on your walk back from work, the dinner you cooked using that new recipe you always wanted to try, or the smile on your friend's face while you were having a weekend coffee date.
In many areas of our lives––including the pictures we take on our phones––we tend to overthink and strive for unrealistic standards of perfection, but in reality true beauty lies in authentic moments. A picture might be blurry or not your most flattering angle, but all those superficialities melt away in the face of a happy smile and a beautiful memory.
Once you let go of any insecurities about being on camera or capturing photos, you are also allowing yourself a brand new creative outlet where you can be playful and experiment. Simply adopt a playful attitude when taking photos: the more you relax and allow yourself to be spontaneous and have fun, the better the imagery––and your memories about it––will be.
Once you build up confidence, you can even start trying different backdrops, a variety of angles, as well as editing tools, such as presets. Of course, the purpose of taking pictures and editing them isn't to erase imperfection and capture a sanitized version of your life, but merely to enhance the beauty of the moments you capture and give yourself an additional creative outlet. It's with that mindset that Chelsea Kauai––the Hawaiian-born creative and acro-yoga teacher––chose to create her set of presets, now available as a gift for anyone who purchases the Notes to Self Journal that Chelsea has co-created with Intelligent Change.
Having spent years editing her imagery, as part of her own creative journey, Chelsea launched her set of presets to offer a quick and easy solution for enriching the colors and quality of any image. Her aim? For everyone of us to be able to engage in the creative process and end up with beautiful, well-polished photos with minimal effort.
An Avenue Towards Gratitude
The reason capturing memories through imagery can be particularly powerful is that it can stimulate your brain to go back to those special moments and quickly remind you of all the reasons you should be feeling grateful for––in a way that mere thoughts would never do. So, on days where you might be facing a challenge or simply feeling down, you can use those visuals to transport yourself back to good moments and to find reasons to pick yourself back up and think positively again.
Having a photo library that reminds you of beautiful moments from both the distant and recent past can become even more enriching when used in conjunction with the Notes to Self Journal. Once you have a look through happy memories, you stimulate happy thoughts in your brain and approach journaling from a state of gratitude––meaning that when you're writing down what you're grateful for, that emotion of gratitude will be ten times stronger in your heart. Similarly, when you move on to set out your daily goals, you'll be doing so from a happy place that will push you to identify the right actions and create more happy memories.
By applying the same approach when you are reviewing your goals every month in your Best Year Journal, you can set yourself up for success by starting your assessment process from that same place of gratitude––all it takes is a visual reminder of all the good times you've been having.
It's easy to get lost in the comparison game or our day-to-day responsibilities and forget the sheer amount of priceless experiences, adventurous travels, or whimsical nights out we get to experience in our daily lives. Pictures can help us remember the good times and refresh our perspectives.
Share the Moment
It's particularly special to look back at photo memories together with our loved ones, relive some of our shared experiences, and remember how lucky we are to have each other. Some of my own happiest memories include going back through old photo albums with my parents to remember moments from my childhood and our adventures together––something that often inspires us to make new plans and create fresh memories.
To that end, it's important to remember the beauty of physical photos, too. As easy and convenient as it might be to now capture our images digitally on our phones, it's always worth making that extra effort from time-to-time: all you need to do is spend a few minutes to enhance the quality of your images using a set of good quality presets, printing, and then framing some of your favorite photos. A framed picture can enliven your home with positivity, as well as make the most thoughtful gift. You could print a couple, write special messages at the back, and slot them into a Five Minute Journal to offer your loved one a timeless, meaningful gift they can always turn to for a dose of positivity.
It's time to go back to rediscovering the joy of capturing photo memories with playfulness and spontaneity––not to compete on social media, but to give ourselves and our loved ones the chance to get creative and feel grateful for all the goodness in our lives.