You asked me why I take photos instead of simply living in the moment. I thought about this a lot, but I never did answer you.
For me, it isn't a question of whether I am enjoying a moment, keeping it for myself and the people I am sharing it with, or ruining it by capturing it with my camera. Cultures around the world, especially Basotho living in rural areas of Lesotho, believe that by taking their photos you are also stealing their soul - in simplest speak. In respecting that, I have become more cautious with how I photograph people. Cultural sensitivity is one of the better personality traits I've gained from the Peace Corps. Contrastingly, I have used photography as a tool for empowerment and I have seen it completely breakdown HIV stigma and discrimination.
If anything I think my relationship with photography has changed the way I have experiences in a truly beautiful and unique way. Our eyes, well they are magical, but there is something that the camera can see in everything that our eyes do not. When I realized that, it entirely changed the way I look at the world... at nature, at the planets and stars, at light the way it moves. Our eyes, for instance, cannot see the moment as an eagle snatches its next meal, the lifecycle of a plant, or the intensity of a summer lightning storm.
I suppose I believe that by taking a photo, my moments are enhanced. I've sat staring at the night sky, sharing a six-pack of Odell's beer with a friend, while shooting a star-lapse on countless summer nights. i have began my hikes at 2am to summit a peak by sunrise and see the golden morning light over the mountain. I've made a book of beautiful memories that are reminders of great experiences with people I love from around the world. My love for photography has completely changed and created my lifestyle. Although, each of these moments will never come back through my lens the same as they were, I think it is really beautiful to try to keep something the way it was forever.
In honor of August 19th, World Photo Day, I've compiled 50 of my favorite photos I've taken since leaving the United States 16 months ago.