My mind tends to wander sometimes when I’m doing something simple at work and often times my thoughts turn to photography. Recently I was thinking about a quote I read from the New York based photographer James Keivom who said – “It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.”
I found the quote quite amusing and it sounded kind of conceivable, but I wondered how accurate it really was so I decided to find out. I have a collection in Lightroom with my all time absolute favorite images – there are 102 of them spanning the last 15 years. When I added up the exposure times for all of these images, I got a total of 2 minutes and 29 seconds and of that, 79 seconds was for a single long exposure image of the night sky with the aurora. My “life’s work” over the past 15 years can be summed up in two and a half minutes. All the days out, all the time scouting, and all of the time waiting for the light, all of it for two and a half minutes. It definitely sounds weird and crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tom, that is some food for thought there. I like to look at it more like the time I have spent in nature. When I look at the photos I’ve shared with my family over the years, I realize how lucky I have been to have spent such a length of time surrounded by nature. I certainly get a whole lot more than the seconds it took me to photograph some of those moments.
Tom, I am afraid to calculate this for me. Considering how much time I know I’ve spent researching, traveling, and photographing, collecting my favorites and calculating the total time would probably be depressing. But, as you said, I wouldn’t change a thing (mostly).
That is a very interesting thought experiment! I used to to A LOT of night photography so I’m guessing my number will be much higher, but if I were to exclude those, I bet my time would be around the same #. Nice idea, Tom!
I’d have to toss a few 20-30 minute single exposure star trail shots.
Interesting tid-bit. From a purely numbers perspective, that’s fun and certainly revealing if one really is interested to compare acculated shutter speed times and YOUR time invested… Would seem rather depressing if you valued the mechanical time and not your own…
My perspective is a little different and probably more in line with how most think. That 1/15th second, 20-min, 5hr, or 1/2000th of a second exposure simply represents not only a lifetime of preparation culminating in that moment - but also represents countless moments in the future as you re-live those moments every time you view that image. That very short amount of shutter speed time, accumulated or not, one could say, represents a priceless investment of time to be enjoyed and cherrished forever.
Also, you counted up all the time of just your favorites, 2m 29s. Did you count all the bracketed exposures? the ones that were deleted or images that never saw Photoshop or print? Is that accumluated time wasted? no value? I would think those numbers would be more depressing?
Good for an intersting discussion.