i can feel
the stony steps
a poignant reminder
of what is really ours.
like the sun,
there at times – beaming,
and then gone,
and back again
and the world
and the confusion
until i am empty
with all the feelings
all i see
is a crumpled up paper piece
and half a broken pencil.
“When people ask me what camera I use, I tell them my eyes.”
I had recently visited my cousin in Pune and we were touring the local museums in search for design inspiration. Obviously I had my DSLR with the lens screwed on and all ready to take amazing photographs. I felt just like a professional photographer.
As I was busy clicking and adjusting various settings, a curious thought struck me – What exactly was I doing? I was here to find design inspiration, not document my journey. Constantly peering through the eyepiece, I had forgotten the beauty of of the actual art piece. I had lost the moment in my effort to capture it in a photograph I probably wouldn’t look at ever again.
The next day, I travelled without taking my camera. And trust me, the experience was ten times more beautiful and memorable without the constant pressure of ‘capturing’ it. Yes, we [me and my cousin] did take a couple of selfies and basked in our own beauty (haha), but those occasional photos from a low resolution mobile camera were so much better then the never ending stream that I took with the DSLR. I was able to spend time with my relatives, while at the same time admire the scene around me.
Sometimes, my aversion for taking photographs makes me wonder if I am not made to be a photographer. This in turn makes me wonder – but I do enjoy taking photographs. It becomes a mini-existential crisis – What am I doing? I am supposed to be enjoying artsy stuff like this. Am I liking this, am I not?
It took me some pondering to come up with what the actual problem was. The problem lay not in the actual taking of the photograph, but at the time of taking it. I realised that whenever I had the DSLR, I was so bent upon using it and proving my mettle as a photographer, that I forgot that the subject was the place I was visiting while the camera was a tool. All my focus shifted onto the fact that I had a camera and that I was expected (by whom?) to photograph all that was around me. This was what I needed to control. I did not have to photograph everything. It was upto me to decided what to capture. I could simply choose to enjoy the moment.
To conclude, I remember a quote from ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, said by the protagonist’s friend (a famous photographer): “If I like a moment, I mean me…personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of a camera. I just want to stay in it. Right there…right here.”
Having been in a design course for over six months now, I can tell you one thing for sure – for us design students, there is no respite from work. We are like work-alcoholic, sleep-deprived, coffee-addicted zombies 24×7. Let me tell you what it is like to be a design student studying at night:
9:00 PM – After having spent the day lazing around, and basically doing nothing, you suddenly realize that you actually had a crazy amount of work to do, the day is almost over, and you have accomplished nothing.
10:00 PM – After more lazing around, you realize that you have no choice but to finish your work. Thus, with a heavy heart, you start off.
11:00 PM – It has been an hour of earnest work. You deserve a break. Let’s watch a two minute video on youtube. Just as a reward.
12:30 AM – You look up from youtube to realize that it has been over a hour and you’re still on your ‘break’. Just one more video, you tell yourself.
1:00 AM – It’s the next day now. You better begin. You close youtube and start working again, swearing that the next time, you will never repeat this and will complete all your work on time.
1:30 AM – You realize that this job was not more than an hour long, but by now, you are too sleepy and too tired to finish it.
2:00 AM – Somehow, you end up back on Youtube.
2:30 AM – By now, you are physically exhausted but mentally beyond sleep and awake enough to dance. Still, who wants to work?
3:00 AM – More Youtube, Facebook, and anything else that postpones the inevitable effort of work.
3:30 AM – You realize that you have tried REALLY REALLY hard to complete your project. It’s time to give up. You shove aside the book and paints and close Adobe Illustrator. Without fear, you proceed straight on to more Youtubing.
4:00 AM – By now, you realize you have only a couple more hours to sleep. You consider an all-nighter.
4:30 AM – You feel too sleepy to continue. Too tired to clear up the mess, you just push everything to the corner and drop off, promising yourself again to never repeat this stunt.
4:30 AM – Damn it. Still awake.
Even after all this torture, we are design students and we love our work!