TEACH YOU PHOTOGRAPHY?
“So now I stand—with my dear camera, bought from hard-earned and funnelled money and ponder—will the visual that I expect engage me for a while...away from my personal humdrum?”
Is photographic instinct inherited from genes or can it be acquired? What is visualisation and how is the resultant visual? How does it please the viewer? What are the throes of chemistry that invoke visual delight?
Have these questions crossed paths with you lately?
Well, I could use a lot more question-marks, but let me simmer down.
I have always held that the promenade to a ‘good’ picture begins with a sudden palpitation of the heart that nudges the eye to feel the photograph before instructing the hands to draw the camera and let technology be faithful to the emotion that started it all...
Photography is an art. And for any art to bloom, you must be sensitive, emotional, joyous. Your roots should entwine nature just as nature should nourish your soul. Your eyes should be moist and your vision visceral...you should be able to read between the lines.
Once during one of my exhibitions, someone came up to me and asked, “Can you teach me photography?”
The answer was not easy. Not a spontaneous ‘Oh, yes, I can!’ The question kept coming back to me long after the viewer had gone and the exhibition over. Today, the closest I have come to answering that question is, ‘well, teach you photography I can’t, but I can show you how to feel a vision and that too only if you fulfil the basic prerequisite that I reflected on in the preceding paragraph.’
The quest for the answer lies in a journey to where we sometimes go or ought to go more often—within ourselves—rather than one out of wanderlust and foraging ‘How to’ books.
Let me cite an example here. Only yesterday, I was walking down a mountain trail and stopped next to a long-burnt funeral pyre of some villager. The coals and ash were strewn all over the forest floor, taking root of decay. It was kind of bizarre, chancing upon such a site in the middle of nowhere. My heart felt a picture here but my eyes were yet to see it. Instinctively, I walked over to where I was against light and laid belly-down on the forest floor amidst coals and long spent cinders. Within a minute I had my picture...a two centimetre tall living sapling sprouting forth from the ghost of the past...
Follow your heart...that’s the catch.
Another gentleman, in another of my exhibition asked me, “Can you suggest which camera I should buy?” I gave him my favourite answer “if you want to fuel your hobby, then the rule is follow the priority list—
Heart, eye and then camera. Doesn’t matter if the camera you buy is not a high-tech gizmo. Well, in case you can afford it, then a good SLR helps, sure. Software cocktails can garnish a picture, but just that. They cannot create the adrenalin, the emotion, the gusto, or the silence of the moment. I remember the time when after three months of vision-gathering in the wilderness, I waited for the negatives to walk out of the darkroom, it was like waiting for the tenth class results with bated breath.
This said, I’ll close by saying this.
When your hobby becomes a passion, remember that passion has a lot to do with compassion.
You’ll do good then.