Gone are the days when one thought long and hard before clicking. Consider the effort of waiting for a full roll to run, carrying it to the photo studio, picking up a receipt, keeping it safely, remembering to pick it up after a few days, and then anxiously checking out how that shot turned out, only to find that someone had their eyes closed.
Having grown up in urban settings, when we first moved to a god-forsaken, off-the-highway, factory colony to live, any trip to civilization took us through roads flanked by vast expanses of green. I would be promptly wowed. “Appa… stop stop.. please.. orae oru photo.. please please” I would scream. Appa would sigh and pull the ambassador to a stop on the side of the road. My brother would eagerly peep out to see what had caught my attention. I would hop out and click a picture of a paddy field. Amma would say “Indha pachaya evlo tharavai dee photo eduppae?”. “Po ma.. evlo greeenaa irukku paaru” would be my explanation to that. In hindsight, my amma was right. They all turned out the same. Appa’s photographic aspirations were entirely different. When I asked him to click pictures of a beautiful waterfall, he would ask me to get into the picture too. He would never waste a photograph on something that did not have a human being in it. So, the result would be a photograph that would be circulated among my friends as.. “Can you see behind me.. there.. behind my brother.. that white thing.. that was a beeeeeeeeutiful waterfall you know…”.
For many years our luck with cameras was extremely bad. When I was at my photogenic best, at age 2, apparently my parents had a camera that either had no flash or a poor one. If I did something cute, amma would instantly transport me to the balcony outside and click black and white pictures of me. That would explain why all my ‘toddlerhood’ pictures have the same backdrop. Then we had what was called a hot-shots camera, which seemed to have served a fair term, until one find day, it decided to add it’s own watermark, a black band along the side. A few cameras came and went, we invariably found that when we needed one most, somehow we were left in the lurch. One camera conked off on our last trip as a family. My father then went looking high and low for a studio in a city new to us, purchased a camera in 15 minutes and rushed back to the tourist bus before we took off. My worst camera disaster occurred in my efforts to acquire a digital camera. Shortly after we were married, my husband and I living in a foreign country, thought we could use a digital camera, so that I could send home pictures of everything from the couch to the bathroom rug. Just as we were contemplating this, a lady stopped us on the road and told us we had won a digital camera. All we had to do is take a cab to her office few blocks away, sit through a presentation at the end of which we would receive our free gift. We thought the timing was uncanny. We couldn’t believe our luck. We endured the most boring and wasted 3 hours of our life trying to be sold a useless holiday timeshare. We were finally handed a digital camera that I would now gladly give to my 2 year old as a toy. That useless!!!
Everybody now has a digital camera. A person I know carries it in her car, and when stuck in traffic, photographs snow falling on her windshield. It makes anyone feel like a professional photographer. People read reviews on everything from amazon to CNET, evaluate shutter speeds, zoom, smaller size, bigger screen, media support etc.. etc.. Compare other people’s cameras with theirs. Ask the most knowledgeable questions… All this to take pictures of people at parties, kids at home with beaming smiles and parents at the Niagara falls. Romba over pa!