January 29th, 2009

Watching waiting

Change in Photography

Capturing of images has undergone unimaginable change through the past few years, and perhaps some time near in the future it may be possible to capture pictures the way Harry Potter characters did - as a short moving clip.
From paintings to black and white was a huge step, but nothing IMHO changed photography as much as digital photography did.
It made photographs expendable.
There is a seriousness to reel photography. The reels are unchangeable important bits. They are a limited resource. Hence, the photographer paid more importance to people, than to abstract art. Unless they were professionals. Paintings were (and still are) bought by people who can afford them. And when the choice was between a landscape and one of your own face, people preferred the latter (but of course).
The same rule carried on for photography. Though this time it was more accessible. People still had full frontal photographs in front of places, thereby proving they had been there. So there would be groups of people in front of, or around the building/ landmark they want to photograph. There should, afterall be no wastage of the roll. If photographs are supposed to document memory, personalise them by being present in the frame, and not just behind it. Sceneries were meant for postcards and posters - professionals would do it best.
The seriousness seen towards photography has still not diminished. The consciousness brought about by being in front of a camera has reduced, but is a definite reduction to our parent generation where being in front of lens meant a check on clothing, hair, smile plastered on (if female, otherwise a serious face if adult male) and a stare right into the camera lenses. The change can be seen in movies as well.

However, then came digital photography. With cameras in every hand, on every moment and every phone, everyone has become an amateur photographer. People have let their imaginations go wild and abstract photography is no longer the domain of professional/ serious artists. It is now open to whoever has the eye for it. A flickr account, a kodak account, a picassa web album - everyone seems to play around with photographs in every imaginable method - except physical glossy 6X3inch copies.

Photographs of people in groups too, is no longer about facing the camera. In most cases candid shots are in, with the ones photographed playing with the moment. No longer the straight faces and artificial sense to photos. No longer does a photo mean people looking in front, holding hands or shoulders. Now it means being natural, laughing, making ridiculous poses - and trying to remember the moment rather than the occasion.

Photography has indeed come a long way. A snap one does not like can be deleted, if photo shopping is out of the question. A private photograph need have no physical presence - it can be hidden away anywhere ethereally. And most of all, the space for photography is limitless. Data cards can be filled and emptied onto another device and refilled - almost endlessly. Taking a few hundred photographs on an outing is not uncommon. And many of them are un-thought of, candid moments.

Photography has changed a lot. Taking a lot of time, patience and effort away from it, making it accessible and common. It has become the equivalent of blogging to writing books - easier, shorter, not necessarily perfect, but still beautiful.

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Light Play


I wish I lived by the sea.
Even as the sentence left my mouth and I looked at the expression on sashdude and rexzilla's faces, I realised - I do live by the sea. I live in Bombay, barely 500 mts from the sea and a pretty decent beach and my office window overlooks an endless expanse of sea framed by tall buildings and a landmark island in the middle. In fact, its a joke that almost every house in Bombay opens on to the sea - whether it be one square inch only - or is next to it.

But the sea here is not what I call the sea. It is not the sea which attracts me, except from a sterile dry floor with A/C and fragrant air. The place where I can look out to its vast blue-greenishness without having to touch, feel and smell it.
The sea in Bombay is not what I call the sea. It is present. But it is not a place to go to. The beaches are filthy, the smells (not sea-ish but toxic) overpowering, and the water - well, its generally surmised that if you walk into the sea water of Mumbai you emerge with an extra head and few more digits.

The Sea is a place to relax. A place to 'dig your toes into the sand' to feel warm breeze laden with salt and water vapour wash over you, to let water lap over your feet. The sea is a place you go for a walk and emerge relaxed. Of course, one can go take a walk around Worli Sea Face (though not anymore thanks to construction work) but thats because its a safe height from the sea level and is totally sterilised by well made embankments and wide footpaths with seats for resting on.

The sea in Goa was like that. Present and available. The beaches inviting, ranging from the soft to the rocky. The breeze heavy and smelling faintly of the sea. And constant sound of splash of waves. I agree that looking out on to the sea and seeing fishing dinghies felt normal at some level, but it was definitely peaceful and different as it was relaxed. However, the feel of sand, the ability to walk into water, and the Beach-iness of it all was what made Goa the idyllic location different from Bomaby the work location, though both are seaside.
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