What's More Important: Pictures or the Experience?

I remember a time, especially in my 20s and 30s, when I was so obsessed with getting great shots while on the road, that I was clueless to everything else that was going on around me. (I probably wasn't a great travel companion during those days either.)

Over the years, I think I've mellowed in this area. My current philosophy is to travel light with high quality gear, so if something does present itself, I can capture it. And I'm doing a much better job of staying in the moment with those I'm traveling with. 

So this leads to the big question: What's more important: pictures or the experience? 

I'm certainly not going to discount the pictures. As I look at images from the past, they help me relive those great experiences. People sometimes ask me, "don't you want to get a souvenir or something to remember this place?" I have the best souvenirs of all:  photographs. 

But I've discovered that I have to live also. If my only experience from a trip to Alaska is  freezing by myself as I wait for the sun to rise, then I wouldn't call that a memorable trip. I want to eat good food, visit museums, explore the countryside, and have someone to share it with... during the activity itself. 

So I'm no longer the obsessed photographer with a viewfinder-only vision of the world. These days, I still have stories to tell and pictures to show. But now I have others to share them with.