Friday, March 04, 2016

The dilution of Photography

When you have enough time, when you are far away from the raised eyebrows of the critical world around, then you can do things you like without caring. Call me the self-obsessed one, but I was just flipping through my Facebook albums and one photo after another I time-travelled from 2016 to 2009. And I did not even realize that half an hour had already passed by. Some photos brought back such good memories that I kept on staring at them for a good minute or so. Living that time, at that very moment, I kept wondering how fast time flies by.
There was this tradition in my home when I was a child. My parents loved photography, and they did not care much about the 36 snap film roll. There had been times when my father refilled our Kodak Kroma once every month, and we used to get one album full of pictures. The knack of clicking random objects and, later on trying hard to make sense of them, have been passed on to me from my parents. And when anybody used to visit us for the evening tea, going through the latest album was a must. My parents would take turns to explain why a photo was clicked, or what had happened at that very moment and our guests would smile. We did not care whether they liked them or not, but they kept coming back and did not mind even repeating some of the albums.
With time, we graduated to smartphones and digital cameras. My parents still do not know how to operate them. They click pictures in phones but cannot connect it to a computer to see them full size. Even the number the guests visiting us have become less. I wonder whether this is true for everybody or only us as we moved out of Durgapur. People do not now randomly ring the doorbell and request for a cup of tea from my mother at 10 in the night. I think my parents miss this randomness. They also miss showing off photographs and telling the stories behind them. My mother has recently taken to Facebook, and she puts a picture every morning wishing her friends a good morning. I like them religiously, just to cheer her up. :-)
Well coming back, I think with the advent of this digital age camera in my life, the photography has lost charm. For me, it was better caring for the number of snaps left in a roll and then using the remaining snaps judiciously. To capture that very particular moment. Nowadays I click everything I see and hence as the supply has become much more than the demand, I care less about the pics I click. Just for an example, the other day I met my friends in Saket and just to show off my new glam cam phone, we took around 100 photographs. These all were taken at the same location and of the same people. Only the expressions changed slightly but apart from that nothing much changed in all those photos. One of my friends held the chicken leg piece and clicked a picture. Looking at him, everybody took turns to do the same. Even I did. But the sad fact is, after coming back home and sharing the good ones over WhatsApp, I haven't opened them again to relive those moments. It is not that I do not value my friends enough, but the photos are just too readily available to me now. So I think I just don't care. On the other hand, when I was in Haldia for a month, I did something similar, yet it has become entirely different.
On my second weekend in Haldia, just to get rid of the fearful first-semester hostel environment, four of us friends thought to roam around the Haldia City. It was a Saturday evening, and it was 2006. Although camera phones had infamously arrived on the market, none of us middle-class pockets had one of those. After a nice outing, it started raining as we were coming back. After getting down at the bus stop near our college, we had to run to find some shelter under the extended asbestos of a photo studio. While waiting outside, Aritra suggested that we go in and get ourselves clicked. The idea seemed stupid at first, but we obliged. And what I got in return is one my best memories captured in a 10cm by a 6cm piece of paper. I cherish that photograph to date and have never felt the need to put it up on facebook or anywhere else. Although I am not in contact with all of them anymore, I still love that photograph and the story of it.