With Cameras

When I was a young girl, I won a coloring competition and the prize was a tiny camera. It was narrow and only as big as a pair of eyes. A binocular sort of camera with a real reel inside it. It brought me so much joy.

Time went on, and my first purchase with money I earned was also a digital camera, bought while I was studying in university.

Then, my mother bought me a small camera in Nehru Place, Delhi, which was eventually lost in transit, since the airport was suspicious of cameras in those days. She worked so hard to find that deal too, alas.

It is no wonder to me then that I love taking pictures. From the moments in which I feel awkward to the events that provoke outrage, my response is often to pick up the camera.

Why pick up the camera as a small, unfit, brown woman in a world of bodybuilder athletic camera people? {The profession does need a lot of stamina, and some physical fitness can definitely help.}

  • Because… taking pictures is not about who you are, but about what you see and how you see it.
  • Taking pictures or videos didn’t start out as a passion or even a profession for me, it was something that I did to capture moments. Once, in a dark room reel based photography class, I remember the teacher laughing at my photographs because they were framed badly. They were pictures of my cousins being silly in front of the camera, of movement, and the emotion of their experience. I finally learnt the rule of thirds, and became comfortable looking at light, but to me, those pictures weren’t as bad as he said they were.

I never thought to question his outlook, but today, I believe that the ridiculous moments that we capture on camera can truly tell stories. In fact, documentaries depend on capturing the moment of excitement, the specific events happening around you – as they happen. These heightened moments of emotion, excitement, pain, exhasperation, community are all an expression of the reality that text can describe, measure or exagerrate through the use of imagination. Visuals, however, can capture, as Susan Sontag or some famous photographer says, a single moment. To me, if there is any reality- which there is, the single moment captured is what contains it. This moment contains authenticity, unless it is staged. There is a much larger discussion on what is even authentic, but the idea is that there is something happening now and if you capture it on your image-making medium, you will capture one of the many billions of seconds in the timeframe of the universe.

Today, however, I wonder if we can even continue to imagine visual making as a solitary profession. We live in a world that is a composite of photographic memories, from the television, to peoples’ smartphones – there is no end to visual information. Images after images are taken by people to represent their lives, these are flooding the internet and our homes, our visual memory.

As a woman making documentary films, I can see how this democratization is incredibly important because so many more people are being seen and heard. At the same time, how does it impact the transactions within image-making based professions?

  • The reason for this blog is then to lend some support to journalists, travellers, and filmmakers who traverse the planet in search of stories. Today, storytellers are the minstrels who continue to face harassment, unfair contracts, and unreasonable clients.
  • At one point of time, a train journey across Europe was the sign of industrial development, it sped up the world in the late eighteenth century. Today, with even more rapid globalisation – travel, photography and image-making have become commonplace. Even the understanding of time changes every time a new part of space is examined closely.
  • To me, as to luddites, technology is meant to aid the work we do to make our lives a little more just, fair, peaceful and loving. If technology cannot do this, then we do not need the technology, and we can do without it.
  • Also, the work involved in waking up to capture the sunrise, or the techniques used to capture intimate moments in realtime cinema, these remain as cumbersome as any other.
  • Therefore, just as the computer did not end the role of the writer, this blog is to retain the role of image-makers, by reminding us of the awe we have for images, and that the camera is just a tool that allows us to do our craft. It doesn’t matter which brand, which lens, if you do not have an understanding of the purpose of the tools at hand.
  • Today, the role of a photographer is not necessarily prestigious, but it can shed light on something special, perhaps why we all like to make and take images, tell stories about our lives and the lives of the people we meet.
  • I would love to connect with anyone who values image-making practices and engages in them.
  • I hope that this blog can bring to light new insights on visual languages and your experiences as an image-maker.

More soon.

#visuals #zerotohero #photos #documentary #verite #autoethnography #story #memory #truth #environment #delhi #india #feminist

Published by RealTimeDreams

Films and stories that explore the connection between mundane experiences and the undercurrents within.

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