52 weeks, 52 stories
I like taking photographs. It’s essentially a family thing — my dad’s a professional photographer. It too started out as a hobby for him. Then eventually he figured he was much better at it than anything else, so he thought — why not? I have grown up playing with empty film roll cannisters. I still remember there used to be at least two large plastic bags, full of these things. When I was younger, a majority of them used to be the black cannisters with the grey lids — b&w film rolls. Then eventually, when color started to get cheaper, the black ones got replaced with translucent white ones. And so it remained for quite some time. Ubiquitous, these things were. Anything starting from vibudhi to buttons to pins, if it could fit, we used it. Of course, nothing that was consumed orally.
And then there were negatives. Dad used to have these office bags bursting at the seams, full of these. Their zips didn’t work for a reason. He used to hold on to the negatives at first — but then soon figured it was more a hassle than a dividend. Negatives were cool — the first few frames were usually blank, as he had to spool in the negative. And when the negatives were developed, this first strip was religiously used to make a very noisy toy, much to the chagrin of mum. But then again, the elasticity of the noisy button sized toad didn’t hold on for long — so that was something I could get away with.
And then came digital — after a very long time. Dad was a bit apprehensive, as the capital costs were high. It wasn’t the best time to fork out a huge amount of money on something that was relatively nascent. But he did decide to take the leap of faith. The first digital camera that we got was a Canon 350D. It was nice — the stamp sized LCD green at the back was a huge leap from the ‘not knowing how things were going to turn out’. And it was then I got hooked. Till that point, the complexity, and the uncertainty kept me from seriously toying with the idea. Quite around that time, I was also doing a course in photography at college. This was brutally classical — films, HD curves, chemicals, the works. We also had labs where we had to develop film and print. Once we made a pinhole camera and took a group photograph. A group of us students (I guess there was Sayantan, Supriyo, Joydeep, Partha and myself) posed still in the corner room of the department, which doubled up as a smoking room/tea room. The exercises were indeed interesting, and it also helped to find another common ground where I could pick my Dad’s brains from time to time. And he heartily obliged in return.
I got my first camera in 2008. This was in Warsaw, and it was again a much apprehensive buy. I don’t recall now, but I am sure I would have made two to three trips to Saturn, slept over the thought for a week, and then finally decided to go for it. My baby is a Canon 1000D, that came with a 18–55 and a 70–300. I got it on Diwali day of 2008 actually. And I remember the gasp mum and dad gave on skype when I showed the box to them. I was a bit apprehensive at first — as it was quite an expensive buy, but then again, looking back, it was something that kept me a bit sane. Over the years, my camera has travelled with me. It has seen sun, rain, snow, blizzards, mud, dirt. It has endured shocks. My 18–55 hasn’t been that lucky. However I was lucky to have replacements from time to time. A 50 mm was eventually added to the kit, but it hasn’t seen much light. Perhaps it is waiting for a subject.
The current year is 2015. And I sure have amassed quite some photographs. Most of the photographs either went up on facebook or orkut. But there have remained some photographs that haven’t been put up in any social media. That’s because they have some close memories attached to them. They are mostly of places, of things, and sometimes of people, who have been a part of my journey so far. It would be a pity if I didn’t tell their stories. How they came about. How they left an impression. How they brought me here — where I am. These photographs are like board pins on a map of my journey. Each evokes so many memories — some sweet, some bitter, some bittersweet. And they deserve a voice.
So here we are. What I would like to do is over the next one year I want to pick up one photo at random from these photographs, and then just gab about them. The story telling will be highly nonlinear. There would be missing links, and maybe you would be scratching your head, as to how these things fit together. But then again, it is quite similar to solving a problem that is posed by Nature. We only see a part of the problem — and over time we piece together bits as we go on. So, hope you will like this journey.