Stop, and say cheese.

To parents and families; a quick question – how many pictures do you take in a month? I want to know because I want to know the severity of my own condition.

In the last seven months I clicked upwards  of 3000 pictures, using both cameras and phones, and that’s after deleting all the blurry and the bad pictures. This is double the amount of pictures from the time my eldest daughter was born. Two kids, twice the amount of pictures- the math fits. I guess I like taking multiple everyday shots of my children – eating, playing , laughing even sleeping and crying- many too cute to delete. You can guess my computer’s hard drives are bursting at the seams with pictures

When I was growing up, (in a lower middle class family and neighborhood in India) one camera film roll had 35 pictures which was to be used very wisely which meant only for special occasions like religious festivals, birthdays, picnics or outings etc…..and very few everyday shots. The Only people who moved around with cameras on them were either journalists or tourists. They were on the look out for moments and places to capture, not us common-folks. For the first two or three years of my life when my parents did not even own a camera, we have only one or two studio pictures to remember what our little family looked like. I am pretty much sure that many families in my neighborhood didn’t even have that. It was time consuming to take a picture- find a place to take a picture, gather the whole family, wait for the right expression. click and then a longer process to develop and wait for the prints and even then there was no telling what surprises lay in wait in the pictures. Copies of the good ones were made to be sent to my two grandmas and to family members who appeared in the said pictures. If you participated in school plays, you had your picture taken. If you got an award, a picture was taken. The more attention you could grab the more pictures you became a part of.

The point is some 25-30 years ago having a picture taken was very special. Equally special at that time was showing the pictures to family members, guests and visitors. May be it was because it was so rare to have a picture taken,and especially because it was so rare. Photographs were taken both as keepsakes and as mementos. To me taking a picture and printing it still feels special. It’s not hard to imagine then, how having a camera on your phone that you carry with you all the time, could escalate the picture-craze (that I have now) and how social media could become a showcase of family pictures.

That begets the second question, who do you share your pictures with? and how?

Social media was great platform for this once but now with the privacy concerns increasing, less and less pictures are shared and because of the inherent filters in some of these sites even less are viewed. Of course  I know no one has time to sift through the dozens of pictures I share and then I come across some blog post about how irritating food/wedding/baby/family cluttering the news-feed are and it makes me cringe. I am guilty of over-sharing. May be even Over-clicking.

Modern devices have made it really easy to take pictures. It does not take much time to take anymore to click and share lots of pictures but that interaction that comes from sharing is definitely lacking. I remember my aunt would complain if my grandma got a picture in the mail but she didn’t. Picture sharing was relational, relatable , it was about family and friends and how well you knew of and about each other.  To that end I feel while sometime pictures are shared on facebook for family in faraway places to see; most of the time they are not addressed to anyone in particular. Nobody is closer or farther, nobody is offended, nobody cares- social media is the great equalizer.

While most of the memories I have of my childhood are from experience, the pictures do their part in reinforcing them. I have a faint memory of walking and talking with my grandpa who passed away when I was five, even though I don’t really remember the exact moment that is captured on film. There are pictures although, especially ones taken when I was a little older,  that I remember about- when and where they were taken who was wielding the camera etc.

I have realized over the years I take pictures primarily for the audience of one – that is Me. Myself. Moi.

I take pictures and I browse through them regularly. Every anniversary or birthday. Now after two kids, there are some pictures which have seen the light of day, out of the hard disk and onto paper and in their scrapbooks. My hope though is that my children will be my future audience. That they will remember the there was an effort that went in -in taking pictures and in looking through them and when the time comes , most likely when my girls are teenagers, the time when they would want to know who they are, where they came from and what they were like ; these pictures will help them to do that and for that reason, I think it is okay to pause and say cheese – one more time!

Phir Milenge!

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2 thoughts on “Stop, and say cheese.

  1. Yes, it’s definitely ok to take pictures as much as you can. I don’t take pictures of my family much but I’m beginning to, now that my parents are getting old and I am afraid I will not have their pictures to cherish when the time comes. Your kids are lucky to have you around taking pictures of them. When they grow up they will have a whole history to learn 🙂

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