Thursday, October 6, 2011

A thing of beauty

My tryst with ‘photography’ started out when my parents finally churned up enough money to buy me a DSLR with much convincing and coaxing. I put photography in quotes here simply because I don’t think it should be relegated to one departmentalized medium. I believe it is Art at large. To me, there is no difference between painting, writing, sculpting, building and shooting pictures. It is all under the same family of ideation. We’re all creating something, but the only difference is the tools we use.

That’s also why I loathe calling myself a photographer in spite of the fact there is nothing more that keeps me happier than to go to a new place, document a community of people, or reveal mundane details. I’m not a photographer. I am a seeker, a creator, a documenter. A visual historian is how I see myself. I’d rather make a photograph than write about it as visual evidence is sacrosanct. And more than anything, visual evidence transcends all language barriers and are accessible to even the most common man.
A beautiful photograph can make my day. It makes me happy and giddy. And at the same time, it can crush me. When I look at such a photograph, I curse myself for not being at that place, at that time. It’s not that I want credit for it. All I regret is not being there at the moment. I miss the moment. I take pictures so that I can be grateful to God for allowing me to be part of such a glorious moment. That’s why I don’t believe in watermarks and I think poorly of people who do indulge in advertising their name over a moment. Pictures don’t belong to anyone. They belong to everyone. Everyone has the right to own and feel part of that moment.
What I love most about this much conspicuous DSLR is that it gives me a chance to interact with people I would never get a chance to communicate and bond with. Like tailors, cobblers, security guards, and dhobbiwallas. They know the city better than any intellectual anthropologist or travel guide.
Taking a picture of someone also makes me feel selfless in a way. Less narcissitic. It makes the other person feel so good about themselves and hence you feel good about yourself for that. There is now a constant urge to document everything I see. I feel like I have wasted trips in the past by not capturing places in their true essence and instead looked for nice flattering frames which would make me look pretty. I’ve come a long way from there today. It’s made me feel more hopeful about our life. Also by selective framing, I push out all the sinister from my frame. And that makes you feel powerful that you can be able to do that. I quote Viviene Westwood here. “Today is the age of the specialist, and the specialist is somebody who knows more and more about less and less.”A Photographer is not a specialist. A photographer must be interested in history, cinema, theatre, music, literature, fashion etc to be able to even appreciate the ingenuity and aesthetics. If a photographer only knows what type of ISO will give you more grain than he/she is missing out in the finer things in life.

The camera has changed the way I see things forever. Colours, faces, doorways, clocks, windows, feet, etc will never be the same to me again. My eyes are constantly are on the look out for beauty. I’ve even started noticing and appreciating a woman’s beauty and aura so much more. Especially, when you look at her through a small frame as you are shoving away all the props that distract from her as you zoom into her. Closer, and closer. It’s been a humbling experience so far.

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