Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Calling

I was eight when my dad first showed me his prized possession. It was something that he kept carefully in a leather bag in a small locker in his room. A vintage Minolta complete with external flash bulbs , an array of lenses and multiple filters. As he ran his fingers over the camera, I immediately knew that this was something very precious to him.I was intrigued to say the least.

To me , taking a picture meant pointing the camera at an object and clicking the samll button on top. I coudn't care less about focus or aperture.Why would you want to do so many complicated things to take a simple shot of an elephant in the zoo? Wasn't a camera meant to capture those special moments in life ,so that you could look at them with your grandchildren and laugh your head off? Wasn't it meant to help your straining neurons in remembering those rare occasions ... grandpa playing soccer with you, or when dad and you tried to bake a cake for mom and ended up making charcoal instead..or that emotional moment when your brother became a dad...or just the time when you saw fighter jets zoom past you in the sky for the first time? I have seen so many people fuss around with their huge expensive cameras on numerous trips with the intention of capturing that beautiful landscape or just a group snap on top of a mountain. So engrossed are they with the nitty gritties of taking the shot ,that they actually forget to notice the beauty of the very place they are in...the beautiful sunrise, the chirping of the birds, the long winding river and the roar of the waterfall at the edge,grandpa's timeless jokes from his graduation days...all this is lost in the mad scramble to set up the camera to capture something that is already etched in memory...for life.

I am now three times older than what I was the day i saw my dad's camera. I have seen a lot of my buddies transform into budding photographers lugging tripods and heavy cameras on our treks and outings. However, my perception of photography totally did a U - turn on one cold winter morning when I saw this exhibition on wildlife photography at the British Council. Displayed on the walls there, I saw the most beautiful pictures of tigers i have ever seen . This photographer , whose name i fail to recollect right now (as usual my grey cells go into hibernation when i need them most) had captured this magnificent animal in its natural habitat in all its glory. Every single detail on the tiger's body was captured so well on film. It was almost like capturing the entire gamut of emotions of this beautiful carnivore...and he had done a stupendous job of this. For the first time i almost looked a tiger eye to eye ...almost.

Inspired by the wonderful exhibition,I went back home promising myself that i would take good pics with my dad's camera and put up an exhibit too and win prizes at that. Months went by and several tens of reels later ,I realised there was more to photography than point - n - shoot. It started dawning on me that this was an art ,and you need to train and condition yourself in a certain way to be good at it. You need to have your creative juices oozing to get that super shot. Taking point n shoot pictures is one thing... protraying your feelings through photography is another. Just capturing an elephant in the zoo is one thing. Capturing an elephant with the bruises on its chain clad legs AND the tears rolling down his face is something else.That blurred picture of grandpa couldve been so much better if it had been taken with a little more care...capturing the wonderful emotions on his face as he goes into raptures talking about his college crushes...capturing the tricolor on the wings of the jet as it zooms by...Photography is an art and a science in itself. An expensive one at that too! :)

Having said all this , i realised that there are times when you need to stop and actually get off the bus and enjoy the scenery rather than stare into the view finder and fiddle with aperture, exposure and focus. There are separate photo shoots that i go on to do these things. Other occasions a simple point n shoot will suffice! There is a time and a place for everything.

To become an artist is not easy...It takes hours of practice and perseverence. Ask a figure skater and he/ she will tell you. Even though i tap keys to earn my bread, I know i will be a good photographer a few years from now. That dream of putting up my own exhibit is slowly but surely coming true.I know now that i have finally found my calling......