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Perspective / September 9, 2018

Photography, my girl next door

Art seeds itself…

My life has always been about art. As is the case with most of us, it was the influence of my parents. Especially, my mother. She can draw, paint, sing, play multiple instruments, knit, do embroidery, and so much more! The easiest way art can thrive is through a creative mother. And it did. I loved to paint as a child. Interest in painting didn’t last long, though. At that age, I didn’t know that photography would become my girl next door.

… and moulds interest along the way.

In school, it was mandatory for every child to take up an extra-curricular activity. We were spoilt for choices at our school – instrumental music, electronics, home science, painting, ikebana, wood work, photography, and sculpture. My elder brother had taken up photography in school. It influenced me to  take it up as well. Not because I felt it was my calling at the time. But, my defiance to do something different from my elder sibling usurped my opinion. I decided upon sculpture.

True art is the girl next door…

The Sculpture room in the school campus was right next to the Photography room. I would pass by the Photography room twice a week, and notice kids sitting on a grey-blueish bench right next to the door, taking instructions from the teacher. Often, I observing them tinkering with their cameras, looking through the viewfinder (at the time, I didn’t it was called so), every now and then. One day, I noticed that no one was sitting on that bench. The teacher must be absent today, I thought. So, I rushed into the Sculpture room. The teacher was going to teach how to make a human face using clay. I was excited. When our class got over, I washed clay off my hands and I walked into the verandah outside the room. Standing in that verandah, I stared at the white sculpture of a crocodile with a fruit in its jaws, and a monkey sitting on its back. The sculpture – which was made of Plaster of Paris – was installed in the middle of a small garden surrounded by single story block on three sides.

…that chooses to be invisible.

I scarcely recall what I was thinking, staring at that sculpture, when I heard kids giggling behind me. It turned out that the Photography class did take place, and that the students were coming out of a very dark room, joking about something. I couldn’t see anything in that room, except for a small red bulb. That piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see that dark room. What was in it? What was that red bulb for?

I could never muster up the courage to step into the Photography room, let alone exploring the dark room at the end of it. Although I pursued sculpture for over six years, I never stepped into that room. I would always notice the kids holding black and white photographs, and the teacher pointing out areas of improvement to them. I never went in.

One discovers her as true love…

Flash forward to 2011. I had gone through my circuitous journey of exploring a variety of art forms – drawing, 3D modelling and animation, music and many more. Pursuing some made me happy, and not so much with others. I talked about my journey of how I picked up Photography in a previous blog. But when I encountered Photography, I found it to be my reflection. The act of finding beauty in a moment; capturing it for posterity; experience it again when you process the image; and re-living it every time you see it or share with others, can’t be described in words.

To find beauty, you must surrender yourself completely. Your sole purpose must be to love the subject and how that subject is interacting with the surrounding, at that point in time. You are not allowed to question or judge. Just embrace it as it is.

Once you have decided what to capture, you carry the onus to capture it. That love calls upon your sense of duty. You must commit to protect and nurture that moment.

What follows is the process of nurturing that momentary love. Back home, when you process that photograph, you must experience that moment all over again. Close your eyes and re-visit that moment. Notice what you saw, what stood out about that moment, and most importantly, how you felt in that moment. Which part of the composition stoked your deep-rooted emotions? What was about that moment that resonated with you the most? That part of that moment is what you must focus on. That is what will guide you to process your photograph. Those feelings will help you decide which part of the composition must be emphasised.

… to create memories that last a life time!

This process, as arduous it is, will help you transform a moment into a memory. A memory that you will cherish yourself and share with others.

After all, what we all seek eventually, is a memory that evokes our deepest feelings. Photography compels to create memories – a common thread that binds humanity.

This art form helps me connect with myself, the world around me, and fall in love with it all. Photography is the girl next door I ignored in the beginning. But, eventually leaned on to, when I was lost.


Written by Shivendra Lal.

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