Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fewer selfies, more usies!

Or, why you need to take family photos – now!

I don’t like having my photograph taken. The five-pounds-added rule doesn’t seem to apply to me; I feel at least 20 pounds heavier in photographs. I’m happiest when I can hide behind a row of people and just have my head peek out between two.

It’s not always been like that. When I think back to when Mohan and I were kids, I realise how many photographs of us our father took. So many! And that at a time when it was considerably more difficult and complicated to take and print photographs – not the easy-as-pie, point-and-shoot process of today. If someone ever needed to document the statues that were strewn through the Bombay Zoo in the 1970s, all they would need to do is unearth my father’s contact sheets of the time – you could built a minor catalogue of the many poses I struck on a seated stone gentleman’s lap, all immortalised in black and white.

And there are so many photographs of Zach. We had to discard the out-of-focus ones when moving home, and the duplicates and triplicates, but we have enough to document the growing up of a much-loved child, the centre of our lives. I even have so many photographs with Maya, that baby who came late into my life… but is almost like my own.

Why, then, do we stop taking photographs when we grow older and as the people around us grow older? For me, it’s because I’m conscious of my weight, of bad angles, of my double chin and my tummy being recorded once more. For others, it could be that they’re not wearing what they would like to be seen in in a photograph. I think the discomfort grows with age.

But, this year, I’ve decided to persevere with photographs of family or friends. Too often in recent times have I helped grieving family members try to find a photograph to place in obituaries or to frame and realised that we don’t have enough – enough to record how important our loved ones are to us, or to document how precious a quick meeting with transiting cousins or old friends has been.

In these super-fast times, there is no such thing as too many memories, or too many photographs. Sure, you meet your parents every other week, or your siblings. You’re with your kids all the time. Sadly, these are not circumstances you can take for granted forever.

Make the time to take photographs – candid ones, yes, but even ones in which you sit as a family or as a couple or a group of friends. Get yourself a digital memory – many of them – that will sustain you in more difficult times.

Of course, there is another side to all this – the key to having a collection of photographic memories is two-fold:
one, keep editing and pruning, so you have only a few, well-chosen pictures of any given situation, and
two, keep it personal – don’t inflict it on guests who have no interest in it at all :) 

And to help, here’s a post  from I Heart Faces, a photography site I love. They have great tutorials to help you take better photographs.


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