Photography and I fell out of love a while back. It wasn’t pretty. Tears were shed, tantrums were thrown, hearts were broken.
My fling with photography started off about five years back. I took pictures for three years with my trusty camera phone before I advanced to a compact point and shoot, which has accompanied me since. There were instances when I was unfaithful. More talented, capable friends lent me fancier cameras to play around with and I was only too glad to accept their equipment to meddle around with. I’m not proud of my moments of infidelity but I would be lying if I say I didn’t enjoy them. There’s this exhilaration and an inexplicable high that taking a great picture brings which my compact (I’m very sorry. It probably wasn’t you. It was me) has never given me throughout all these years together.
I entered photography with the unbridled enthusiasm I leaped into marble papering, candle making, art and all my other abandoned relationships along the years. You may say I have commitment issues, I say you’re young once. The early years with photography were beautiful. You know, the twilight days where your rose tinted glasses are still firmly wedged on your face. No dish was too menial to be digitally immortalized; no event was complete with multiple pictures and I could not pass a flower or a baby without kneeling down to photograph it/her/him. Quantity took precedence over quality (I think I have 20 pictures of a tiger lily in my garden. At least a 100 of my cat) In a flood of mediocrity, there were a few good ones. There were moments when I would be inspired but they were few and far between. When I moved to India, I was dizzy with delight. This place is a photographer’s haven. All the Indian clichés you have seen in Hollywood movies unfurl around you, alas, minus the exotic, Eastern soundtrack in the background. I was going to conquer Delhi, one mega pixel at a time.
Somewhere down the line, the romance fizzled out. I’d take pictures reluctantly, as though it was something I had to do, not because I wanted to do it. The experimentation stopped abruptly. I even stopped gazing wistfully at the many SLR toting people I’d encounter. The once tangible chemistry was no more, the conversation, dried up.
The streak of disinterest and mediocrity continued and the rough patch snowballed into an estrangement. I stopped making an effort and feigning interest and the fissure gradually deepened more and more. Long hours spent watching youtube post processing tutorials and stalking my favourite photographers became a thing of the past. My incessant need to document Delhi abated and I started listening to a lot of Adele. What was once the pride and joy of my life was banished to the depths of my cupboard along with the Kiran Desai book I’ve picked up countless times but never been able to get through. In retrospect it was a strange time. Even people around me noticed the absence of my better half and saw through the veneer of my watery excuses.
Like all broken relationships, I played the blame game. There was nothing wrong with me, I told myself firmly – it was my camera! And the answer, I made up my mind, was a very fancy, very expensive SLR. Upgrading, I am told is the norm. Your clothes, your car, your phone, your computer, your house; maybe it was time to end things with my compact? Hell, if the 16 year old kid on my Facebook friend list could own a SLR, take a bad picture, stick a vintage vignette, chuck in a profound quote and call it photography, I could too.
Fortunately or unfortunately, financial practicalities prevented me from immediately sauntering in to an electronics store and I dislike running to my parents every time I want a new toy. Plus, the timing didn’t seem right so I reluctantly accepted that I was stuck with my compact for better or for worse, or at least for the time being. I wish I could tell you that we patched things up perfectly and walked off to photograph a red and gold sunset but Walt Disney lied. There are no fairy tale endings in the real world.
Things haven’t been all that bad though. I like to think the romance is still there. A few weeks ago, I stopped to check the ISO settings and played around with the composition. While on holiday recently, I switched on to trigger-happy mode and went a little crazy with the picture taking (picture beautiful people, mountains and the bluest of blue skies. You couldn’t be immune to the atmosphere if you tried). Another day, I even opened up photoshop.
People have overcome bigger ruts, made tastier lemonade and every chick flick I have watched has informed me that all relationship have its ups and downs. I haven’t taken a picture I’m proud of, in a very long time but I like to remain optimistic. Let’s see how everything goes over the next few months, shall we?