I got my first camera when I was ten. It was a gift from my uncle, who brought it back with him from England. I was extremely thrilled. It had a built-in flash, and auto-focus features. I loved it because it was so unlike my father's complicated, bulky Canon, which I couldn't even hold in my small hands.
I gleefully set about taking photographs with my lovely new camera. But there was an inherent limitation to the number of pictures that I could take - 36 - in one roll of film. I would have used up rolls upon rolls of films, but my father sat me down and explained to me the expenses involved in photography. The cost of the film, then the developing and printing. "It is an expensive hobby", he said. "If it had been your only pursuit, then it would have been alright. But after truckloads of books and music cassettes, your music lessons and the sports club, it will be good if you go a little easy on photography. Oh, I am not saying you should not take any photos at all! Go on, click away, but keep it under control. When you grow up and start earning, you can do what you want!"
I, a sensible and obedient (ahem) daughter, appreciated the reasoning. So I set limits for myself. Is it a short 3-day holiday? I could use up only one roll of film. Is it a week long holiday? To historical and touristy places? Ok then, two rolls. Is it a birthday party? 15 snaps at the most. A family get together? 15 or 20 photos. And so on.
Now, this limitation actually turned out to be a boon. I deliberated over each snap. I would wait for the best possible view, the best time to take the snap. I would pick and choose the best scenes, the most remarkable, memorable views and object. And then I would focus, hold my hand steady, and just move that one finger, and... click. The view was frozen for eternity.
And then the desperate wait to get back home and get the photos developed and printed, to see how the picture had turned out!
If I look back now, I marvel at my photographs. Much care and thought went into each photo. Each one was perfect. I was immensely proud of them.
Now I have a digital camera. No limit on the number of photos. No film costs, development costs, printing costs. Just click. Endlessly. And added to it, I immediately get to know how the picture has come out. Not satisfied? Click again. Auto focus. Light adjustment. Zoom capabilities. I now click with one hand. I click as many as I want to, saying, I will just pick the best. And the result? Not one of them is as good as the pictures I took with my trusty old camera.
Oh I am not blaming the poor digicam. It is a wonderful gadget. My own apathy is at fault. I know that with the digicam, I can click snaps that are far better than my simple little snaps of yore. But I don't try that hard. Because now I have nothing to lose. The enthusiasm, the need to make each picture faultlessly beautiful, does no longer exist. The agonizing, yet exciting wait to see how the snaps have come out, the anticipation of looking at the snap for the first time after it has been printed - the charm has gone.
Yeah I know, I know, all is not lost yet. :) I am glad I stopped to reflect on why my pictures don’t seem to be that good any longer. A problem acknowledged is a problem half-solved, and all that. But a part of me also wonders if I should get back to using a good non-digital camera (What's it called?). All you photography enthusiasts out there, go ahead and give me tips. ;)
[My other post on photography.]