A photograph has picked up a fact of life and that fact will live forever.
With these words, distinguished photographer Raghu Rai drew the audience right into the heart of the magical world of photography.
Not that he really needed to considering that the select audience comprised professional and amateur photographers, and also photography enthusiasts like me who had been specially invited by Google+ to commemorate World Photography Day at the Tote on the Turf restaurant in Mumbai.
Raghu Rai delivered the Keynote Address at the event where he spoke of his own journey as a photographer and shared experiences and anecdotes on developments in the field of photography and transitions over the years; how he never touched a film camera after getting introduced to a digital camera; how he was introduced to Google and its various features by his daughter, and much more. He also engaged with the audience and answered their questions. I particularly liked his response to a question on how to choose a mentor. His answer: “Your conscience is the best mentor you can ever have.”
The Google+ event was a short and snappy affair, which got over in a little over an hour. There were with 3 other sessions, which included:
- A presentation on the Delhi Photo Festival and the importance of community in photography by Prashant Panjiar. After his presentation, I’m seriously considering going to Delhi for this Festival which commences on September 27.
- A panel discussion on the changed and changing landscape of photography with photographers Sooni Taraporevala, Sumit Sen, Mulchand Dedhia, and Ketaki Sheth. The panel discussion was moderated by the Google’s Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Paroma Roy Chowdhury. All the panel members were unanimous in stating how digital photography had made it possible for everyone to become a photographer, thereby levelling the ground between a professional photojournalist and a citizen journalist.
- A presentation on the enhanced Google+ tools by Sandeep Menon, Director (Marketing), Google, where photo-editing features like Auto Backup, Auto Enhance, Auto Highlight and Auto Awesome were demonstrated. I haven’t had a chance to use these features yet, but am looking forward to use them soon. 🙂
In addition to the sessions, there was a special exhibition of the work of participating photographers. The photographs were mounted on easels, like works of art, which they certainly were.
The long bus journey home after the vent gave me enough time to reflect on the what had been shared and showcased. More importantly, it also gave me an opportunity to look at my own journey in the world of photography for the first time.
I love photographs and consider them to be works of art. But, in spite of this, I never graduated to liking or even enjoying photography for the longest time. The first time I held a camera with the purpose of taking a picture, I didn’t feel anything magical coursing through me, à la a certain Harry Potter and a broomstick. In fact, I felt distinctly uncomfortable holding a basic Kodak point and click film camera. And also a little sick with worry.
It was the summer of 1992. I was somewhere near Bhuj in the Kachchh district of Gujarat, and just beginning the field work component of my Master’s dissertation in Geology. The field work, the intense heat, or the fact that I had to cover several square kilometres on foot didn’t daunt me, but taking photographs to record my observations did. There was no room for error and I had to be sure that my photographs from 2 film rolls of 36 each were at least somewhat decent. I was lucky — 43 photographs passed muster. I wrote my dissertation, presented my findings, passed, got my degree…
Thereafter, the Kodak accompanied me on some of my travels across India, before it stopped functioning in 2003. I didn’t particularly miss it, as I found that I travelled just fine without a camera. Sometimes I borrowed my brother’s film camera, or rather had him forcibly lending me his camera ! In all these years, I remained a reluctant user of the camera and may have clicked about 200 photographs in all. No, photography certainly did not interest me.
Cut to September 2008.
My brother gifted me a Canon Powershot A590 camera shortly before my departure for a year-long stay in London, with stern instructions that I was to use it or else… Again, it was with deepest reluctantance that I began using the camera. And soon, photo essays were being mailed to family and friends to share with them my life in London. To my complete surprise, the photo essays were a hit and I also realised that I also liked putting them together.
Slowly, without even realising when, the camera became an essential item in my backpack. By extension, photography became a part of my travels, nay my life. When I returned to India, I had taken over 5,000 pictures !
Back home in India, the camera continued to be a constant in my bag. And continuing with my photography journey, I invested in a bridge camera, a Lumix FZ100, about 2 years back. It was also around the same time that I started using Picasa’s basic photo-editing features for the pictures I posted on this blog. Then came my smartphone, a year ago, which made taking pictures even more easier…
Again, without realising it, I had become a photography enthusiast !
Later that evening, when I shared the day’s event and my thoughts with a photographer friend, he exclaimed, “Why are you calling yourself a photography enthusiast? Call yourself a photographer, woman !
“Naah,” I replied. “The day I learn to use the manual mode of my camera, I’ll call myself a photographer.”
So for the first time since I used a camera in 1992, I’m going to read a camera manual from cover to cover. My camera manual where a whole new world awaits discovery. And then there is Google + photo-editing tools to explore as well.
What fun ! 😀