Home Videos & the Cameraman Conundrum

There's something undeniably enjoyable about watching home movies. Whether it's the waves of nostalgia, the resurgence of a feeling or perhaps just seeing yourself in third person like the hero of your own film, it’s something we all seem to enjoy. It’s a feeling I've grown up with thanks to the home video collection that my Dad and Granddad lovingly cultivated over the years. Last year, in an attempt to provide that enjoyment to family and friends I made a real effort to ensure that I didn't miss a beat. Every significant event that could be filmed would be. It totalled in at 166.57GB and over 24 hours worth of footage. The plan was to create an archive for each month and at the end of the year a short chronological montage like a 2013 highlights reel. Something the people involved in can look back at and go “aw, I remember doing that and that was fun”, because we love that. So I made the video and you can see it below.  It was a fairly easy de-constructive edit and as we all know by now, I’m partial to a good montage so I was happy to put the work in.

This year I’ve made a similar although less vigilant effort to capture home video. You can see some examples of this year’s progress below. They're both simply collections of moments played over some music, intended to be watched and enjoyed by those involved.

So although I've been archiving bits and pieces, my 550D and I have spent significantly less time with each other over the last few months due to an exploration of what I like to call the ‘Cameraman Conundrum’. It’s a question that sounds something like this - “do you film the moment, somewhat removing yourself from the experience in exchange for the ability to re-watch it, or do you put the camera down and completely be a part of it.” It’s as much a philosophical question as it is videography related so it falls into a somewhat of a sweet spot for me as both subjects tickle my pickle. I thought I’d give myself a break, take the pressure off and involve myself more in the activities rather than designating my role to observe-and-archive.

After having tried out both styles here are the conclusions I’ve come to - Keeping a home video archive is hugely rewarding. It provides a footprint of your experiences and the joy that comes with being able to watch it back. At the end of the year get everyone together and you’ll see the enjoyment it creates. However, don’t film to prove to others that you've lived. Social media has influenced the way we associate our personalities with media of ourselves, so know that you don’t need third party acknowledgement to feel valid. Do it for the future enjoyment of you and your friends and family. Don’t let filming the experience dilute it. The most important thing is enjoying the moment to it's full potential now, and while re-watching footage is hugely enjoyable it doesn't possess the same joy as being there, so prioritize accordingly.

As with most conundrums about life, the answer relies on a balance. Be ready to capture special moments, but don't live through the sights of your view finder.