March 14, 2012

Photographing Moods

During the last two weeks of my final term at university, I happened to break my camera lens. I still had an old-school analogue camera in those days and I only discovered the camera injury when I went to get my film developed. (Does anyone still remember - or even miss -  the excitement of dropping off your film at the chemist to be developed - and eagerly returning a couple of days later to see how the pictures turned out? OK, just me then;). The developed photographs were perfectly clear except suddenly becoming blurry, almost watery, in the center - and I was quite disappointed that the camera got damaged when I most wanted to record a time that I knew would never quite come back again...

Over the time, though, whenever I leafed through those photographs again, I realised what perfect metaphors they had become for memory and how we perceive memory. When we flash-back and become nostalgic about a certain time-period of our lives, we are convinced that we have meticulously preserved all those memories and associations about that time - and yet, as we trawl through our memories, we realise that yes, while certain aspects are still crystal clear, others have become so terribly vague  that they are on verge of disappearing from our memories.

I often think about why I so enjoy taking pictures. For me, photography is not always necessarily about taking a pretty picture -yes, I do often photograph what I perceive to be unusual or visually interesting but more often than not, it also involves documenting a particular mood or response to a place or event or person, preserving it in my memoryscape. When I look at a photograph that I have taken, I am reminded as much as of the subject as what I was thinking about it then - it is as much a photograph of the subject as of my thoughts at the time. In that case, the picture necessarily does not have be technically or aesthetically perfect - it just  needs to make me.

So, now, I instead see the surreal blurriness of those final term pictures as reflective of the lazy, sunny, summery haze that my friends and I had inhabited at the time - we were at a pivotal crossroads in life, unknowing where our paths would take us or how divergent they may become. But for the moment, that fact had become irrelevant and present was all that mattered.

Here are some of my mood shots below and their back-stories:

Peek  a boo: Haveli as seen through a lattice window one monsoon afternoon
Marigolds on fire: Wedding preparations at where I pursued an artist's residency several years ago

Doors with many stories: A metal door in Barka
Moon shining in a sunny blue sky: A peep-hole window in a blue wall in a temple en route to Ajmer

*Edit: I chanced upon this article which talks about how some photographers are unable to take a picture of a certain moment or subject - and the stories behind that pivotal decision...


  1. I think about those film-dropping-off days all the time! :)

    1. Phew, yet another member of the tribe:) there was so much anticipation and looking forward to leafing through the pictures...yet another ritual that has become victim of our digitised world:(


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