Why We Don’t Videotape or Photograph Rituals


A listener wants to know why we don’t videotape or photograph rituals. There are some exceptions to this rule, like weddings, but it holds true in most situations. Here’s why.

You’re a Participant, Not a Spectator

If you are a part of the ritual, you need to be fully present to get the most out of it. If you are taking pictures, you’re not in the headspace to benefit. You’re making yourself an outsider to the event, not a part of it. So you detract from your own experience. The best experiences are the ones for which there is no evidence because you were so fully invested that you totally forgot to record it.

Respect Other’s Privacy

If it’s a group ritual, it’s an invasion of privacy to record other people without their consent. It’s not easy to only capture your part of the event and leave everyone else out.

It Ruins the Collective Vibe

When we are in ritual together, there is a collective vibe. What each person brings to the table impacts the big picture vibe. If one or two are fiddling with lighting, using flash, or are cheesing in the corner for a photo, it makes the energy less sacred and more party or social gathering. That defeats the purpose of the ritual and ruins the collective vibe. Just don’t.

Reduces Vulnerability

The Observer Effect is when someone who is being watched changes their behavior because they are being watched. In ritual this often means that people are less vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable to connect deeply. Without it, the power and meaning are reduced. If ritual space is not safe, people won’t engage.

Honors the Sacred

When we connect with the sacred, we take only memories. There are things that happen in liminal space that are meant to stay within. They are not to be brought out into the physical world to be shared. Ritual is personal. Let it be personal. Digest it. Ponder it. Savor it. If you capture it and duplicate it, the energy often flows from it.

If you are going to a ritual and are concerned about photography or want to take pictures, ask the host for the rules for this event. The guidelines are not hard and fast.

You may also want to ask your heart what is the best thing for you. It often feel “yucky” to take more than memories. If you have this feeling, honor it.