A little while ago, my niece got a new mobile phone, and she was over the moon about the multiple built-in cameras in the device. Well, the priorities have certainly changed over the last few years with smartphone companies jumping into the war of pixels and promising customers an in-depth pro-level photography experience.
Surely, our lifelong friends Canon, Nikon and Sony must have felt cheated at having their area of expertise usurped from right under their noses, thanks to the technical revolution in mobile phones. “It broadens our photographing ability and captures more of the scene with the optical zoom!” exclaimed the devil’s advocate. Big words! For all I knew, one did not need a camera to see the world. It was as colourful to the eye as any camera could capture.
Living under the unforgiving tyranny of the lens became difficult for a camera-shy person like me. I would shrink each time my movements came under the lens. Once she trained her weapon on me early in the morning and that really got my goat. I couldn’t quite comprehend, how my high-definition tatters would do any good to her photography! After all, she had no dearth of posers with everyone from the kids to the house helps ready to oblige her.
A chip off the new block
The latest addition to my niece’s modelling ramp was the by far the most surprising. My mother had become a chip off the new block! She would spend time laughing and giggling with her granddaughter. They also took to practising the best camera angle before a mirror. These partners in crime would often capture candid shots of me and remorselessly post them on the family group!
I remember, in our times, the camera, would only come out on special occasions and only important events would be captured. We never stressed over how good we looked at parties. Rather, our preparations ahead of a get together included preparing a few couplets of poetry, interesting anecdotes, or a song if one could sing.
Things have changed drastically, and I have had to become more conscious of my beauty than my brains as everyone is wielding a little camera in their pocket these days. I started fortifying myself with an extra dash of powder and rouse before a do, lest some paparazzi capture me with a dull countenance.
The shutterbugs were getting wild and free , with everyone filling up their memory sticks with pictures and self-shot videos. We always had a friend or a relative who would insist on a video call. All aspects of life were getting magnified and larger than life.
Filters become way of life
Our plates of food looked more delectable in a filtered photograph. Most vacations had a single-point agenda: click beautiful pictures. Parties would not be complete without an elaborate photo session. My friends had learnt to pout and smile in that suitably tilted semicircle.
Some people stretched it too far, when they got busy filming an accident, rather than helping around.
My journey towards becoming camera savvy was a long one as I was yet to determine its usefulness in my life. I was the square peg in a round hole when it came to posing. Yet there were buddies who would drag me into the frame.
But not any more. Social distancing put a brake on these things, and I was quite comfortable with it.
The mask has been a saviour as it has helped me escape the limelight. With the world opening up, I am a little sceptical about facing those cameras again. I wonder if I could ask these camera companies to come up with a feature to automatically hide those who do not wish to be in the picture. A la Mr India!
(The writer is a Chandigarh-based lawyer)