I had been toying around with the idea of trying to catch the sunrise over Prague’s Old Town ever since I first heard of the Charles Bridge. After a lot of back and forth over a long and tiring day I went to bed thinking it wouldn’t happen, but when I awoke promptly at 4am the next morning I decided to go for it! Grabbing my camera bag and a jacket I headed out to take the metro two stops down to the banks of the Vltava River. I picked a spot facing east, with the skyline of Old Town on the other side of the bank and the Charles Bridge on my right. The sky was turning pink and just beginning to lighten, swans were scattered about the river in groups of two or three, and I kid-you-not fish the size of my forearm were hurdling themselves up to catch flies out of the water. The moment was perfect and breathtaking. It was also when I realized why my camera bag felt so light.
On the plane ride over I had watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the movie (which I highly recommend) Walter is chasing an adventurous photojournalist named Sean O’Connell to try and recover a missing film negative that supposedly captures the “quintessence” of Life Magazine to use as the cover for the final issue. After chasing Sean all over the world, Walter finally catches up with him in the Himalayans trying to photograph a rare snow leopard. During their conversation one appears, and Walter asks if Sean’s going to take the picture. Sean replies, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
I thought about that as I stood on the riverbank without my camera. Sometimes we get so busy capturing moments that we forget to actually stop and see them. I think it was important for me to remember that.
But damn, that would have been a good photo…