Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A hate letter

I liked playing chess as a kid. I played with other kids, and with a program with ran on MS-DOS. I would not claim that I was very good at it, but it was fun nevertheless. Then I learned that chess can be learned. I bought books, memorized different types of openings and strategies. I spent hours playing with myself. I won more. But every loss hurt more too. And somewhere down the line, the charm went away.

My feeling is, the same thing is happening with photography. I never wanted to be a photographer. I do not claim myself to be creative. I just liked taking pictures, playing around with each frame. Sometimes they came out nice, sometimes not - but there were never any expectations. With effectively unlimited memory cards and a backup battery, there is no limit to the number of photos you can take. Law of average dictates that out of a hundred or thousand tries, some would come out good. Digital camera and online photo sharing meant friends and strangers started seeing those, whether they wanted it or not. Some liked some pictures. Hell, one even won an "honorable" mention at the university organized photo contest. Of course I was happy and proud. I did not even enter the contest next year, or the years after, only because I could never remember the deadlines. Another landed up in CNN iReport. Taking a photo for me was never about entering a contest or gathering praise. although if they came as a byproduct I was too glad to bask in the glory.

Somewhere down the line, people started asking questions. Why I am not switching to a digital SLR. Why I do not use photoshop (it is another matter that most use illegal pirated version, which they should not be using at all) or post-process the images. Have I thought about reading about photographic techniques, or planning to enroll in courses. I held out. No digital SLR for me, because I am broke. I have no time to edit pictures and no inclination to readup technical details. And when I looked around, I saw people using fancy cameras and pirated softwares posting dull pictures, and garnering praise. The praise did not bother me so much, as did the general attitude that a costly camera must imply awesome pictures. In this era of artificial human interactions, what else one can expect!

When you do something spontaneously, it is mostly fun. When the same things starts becoming too technical, and you feel the pressure of expectations, the fun starts dissipating. I get asked often if I am not "tired" of studying. People identify studying as something they were forced to do as a kid, not as something you do because you want to know how nature works, or how you can positively affect human lives. Nothing forced is fun. Competitive activities can be fun, but mostly because you enjoy the competition and derive a pleasure out of vanquishing opponents.

Anyway, I finally gave in. I should be migrating from my high-zoom point and shoot to a micro 4/3rd interchangeable lens camera soon. I am hoping it is worth the money, and worth the hassle of learning a new technology. Otherwise, another hobby would become a victim of peer pressure.


Anonymous said...

Nicely summed up. Even when you post your pictures on social networking sites comments come like - nice leading diagonal/bg smeared/minimalistic and stuffs like that. These technical parlance makes things very insipid and arid. What is more people tend to appreciate them more since they hold in high value those self-styled critics.

I personally am a travelohic (a little less than you) and lately I have stopped reading too much before visiting a place, especially about what to shoot. Since, by doing that you run the risk of going to Louvre, just to shoot Monalisam that too, at an angle of 33.3 degrees (you read it somewhere). In the lingo of the streets - it sucks so very much. You start to see things with a sunglass, which is not yours at the first place, at midnight.

dipthought said...

I know exactly what you mean. You know a trip is ruined when you look at the picture postcards in the gift shop, and start thinking how can I get such a picture! ;-)