This moment was captured last week. A friend and I were taking a nostalgic trip to our kampung halaman (hometown) here.

We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ by the river, and her camera kept self-adjusting the light settings. We finally thought we had got the setting right, were just waiting for the timer to countdown, then at the last second, it adjusted again!

The resulting moment, is probably clearly captured by the photo.

When I looked up the definition of ‘Candid’, this is what came up:

can·did ˈkandəd/


1. truthful and straightforward; frank.”his responses were remarkably candid”

synonyms: frank, outspoken, forthright, blunt, open, honest, truthful, sincere, direct, plain-spoken, straightforward, ingenuous, bluff;

2. (of a photograph of a person) taken informally, especially without the subject’s knowledge.

synonyms: unposed, informal, uncontrived, impromptu, natural “candid shots”

It made me muse for a bit on the thought that so much of our lives, or what is portrayed in society, can be contrived, posed, lacking in true openness…

A silly, yet possibly serious, example of this can be the time spent getting the right photo for facebook, instagram and so on. I’d like to know how many photos on instagram these days are really ‘instant’.

I’ll confess. I’ve been at a nice spot, or event, and have been so busy trying to get the ‘right’ shot, or ‘record’ the moment, that I’m actually missing the moment! Even if you haven’t got a confession like mine, I’m sure you’ve been somewhere behind a sea of raised mobiles at a live event.

Now, I think I’m right in saying that when I take a ridiculous number of shots (I now limit myself to 10 tries!), in pursuit of ‘the’ shot (of that sunset, coffee, me, me n my peeps etc.), that I’m not trying to contrive the right shot in order to portray some particular image of myself or my life to the ‘world’. But I do reckon that it is possibly the ‘thin edge of the wedge‘. Meaning that though not serious at this time, if not careful, could potentially end up being so one day.

This musing also reminded me of an article I came across a few months back entitled, ‘If you really want to remember a moment, try not to take a photo‘, by Manoush Zomorodi

Part of the article’s key premise is summed up in it’s opening,

People worldwide upload more than one billion images a day, preserving their memories to enjoy them in the future. But it turns out: all our photography may be obstructing our recall,…

Manoush also set a challenge of having a photo-free day,

…For 24 hours, see the world through your eyes, not your screen.

I took up the challenge. And was both more aware of how many times I reached for my phone to ‘capture a moment’. As well as how much more a part of the ‘narrative’ I felt. I was more present and aware of my day. Especially as seeing as I resisted the urge to take a snap of those things I normally would have, I took more time to take them in, and experience it.

Now don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying that taking photos is bad.- I currently have a significant number of photos on my phone and laptop which would support this! And this post itself, started because of a great moment captured by a camera.

I am though positing, that life in the candid, unscripted, moments can be some of the most joyful, precious, meaningful, and of more lasting impact. Even when with some of them comes pain.

So therefore, it is possibly worth considering what, if anything, could be changed in our current daily lives in order to make more room or capacity for them.

Be that taking up the challenge of a photo-free day, lessening some of our regular activities, delegating some of our responsibilities, being open to a bit more spontaneity, embracing being dropped off at the wrong spot by your gojek driver (as you got to try out that coffee shop you’d previously noticed, but probably wouldn’t otherwise have got to), getting together with that friend(s) you haven’t seen in an age etc.

Whatever you choose (or not), I hope that life is providing you with authentic moments, -candid and otherwise- that add to your collection of experiences and memories.

For some related reading/another perspective:

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life*

Impression Management

Both interesting reads. Especially if you want to dig a bit deeper into some of the wider context touched on in the post.- As a heads up, they are both more ‘academic’ in style.

*Thanks going out to another writer -Stirlyn- for sending me this link after reading the post