The weight in our clicks

Photographs are tokens of our mortal existence. Bold enough to challenge Time almighty, they slice up the juicy moments of life and freeze them forever. Most importantly, they provide a small consolation that no matter what happens in our life, that tiny fraction of a second will never run away form us.

Roughly two and a half decades earlier…

It’s 1993 and I, a yet unborn soul watch from the heavens alongside my favorite Gods. My future father seems to have taken a sudden keen interest in photography. The subject of his new, shining black shutter is not mother nature, animals or his travel exploits. It’s my newborn brother. He wants to capture each shade of his infectious laughter, his small obsidian frizzy hair and all his adorable movements. I can’t wait to come down…

Present day…

I look up. There they are, the archives of my childhood, shying away in the dusty corners of the topmost shelf. I wrestle with my inept climbing skills and manage to drag the box out. As the box opens and I browse through the photos, time becomes intractable, darting back, forth, and way back again. And before I realize, more than an hour has passed. I finally close the box.

Just for the sake of completeness(and wasting more time), I pick up my phone, and go through the hundreds and hundreds of photos I have taken in all these years, backed up on the cloud. And then I realize something.

There was something special about those old photos. And no, they weren’t just special because they were old. They were special, because they possessed a certain weight.

We have come a long way from buying films and running to get negatives converted. One tap is all it takes now, and everything is captured and stored in our unlimited storage. Cameras have improved, picture and storage qualities are fantastic. And it shows too. Photos taken with our futuristic phones look flawless. Everything seems nearly perfect to capture that perfect moment. Many of the pictures I have taken recently are quite important to me. They do their job, remind me of those special moments and make me want to relive them.

And yet, those flawed pictures of yore had something which seems missing today. If the pictures today capture a perfect moment, the ones then captured a time. Take out any single picture out of that tattered box, and it seems to perfectly reflect my entire childhood. No, those radiant smiles in the small number of family photos does not mean that every moment was a joy. Life had its ups and downs same as it has now. But as a summary, an expression of all those years as a whole, I think it does justice. This is what I mean by the weight, the weight of representing a time.

Weight comes in numbers. Sometimes it feels like with all those millions of moments we capture today, we distribute this weight. And as a result, each click feels a tad lighter. But mostly, things have changed for the better. We got what we asked for; taking photos can’t get simpler than a tap(except maybe batting our eyelids, though I guess that will be possible pretty soon too).

Life has this funny way of giving and taking. Sometimes we are too submerged in what it gives us, and what it takes away is so subtle that a very few notice, and even fewer care. In this case, it seems our photos just got a bit lighter, and not just literally.