Today I watched a 2018 Netflix original movie by name ‘Kodachrome’. An old, internationally famous photographer takes his 35 mm slides, traveling all the way from New York to Kansas to process them at Kodak chrome lab which is getting permanently closed. This drama was nice to watch and the dialogues were wonderful. It kindled a lot of thoughts about my photography experience! I never had the fortune of owning any camera till I got married in 1979. My wife who studied in an International University in Moscow, had purchased a ‘Zenith’ camera there and brought it to India on her return. It was the cheapest SLR camera in the world at that time. Certainly it was no match to Japanese or American products. But it did its job neatly. I learnt a little about taking pictures using it. Initially I used only black & white film. My son who was just born then was the cute model for my experiments. (He is photogenic even now). One day at 8 am when he was playing with water I just tied a white cloth around his head and took a photo in natural light. It came out so well that I liked to enlarge it. In Chennai T. nagar, there was one famous photo studio owned by ‘Cherian brothers’. On seeing that photo, he appreciated it very much and loved to draw a portrait. I agreed and that picture is still hanging in my flat. Every time I see that, it takes me back to his childhood naughty days! For the next 18 years, I was using that camera only. We covered important events like our son’s birthdays, our tours, relatives’ marriages, work place programs etc. I took color Kodachrome pictures too and had lot of 35 mm slides. I stored them in slide boxes. But recently when I checked them, most of them were spoiled. It was quite painful to see their condition! I purchased a slide converter from Amazon and transferred them into digital format with whatever was remaining. When the photo print shops were slowly disappearing and print films were stopped from manufacturing, I too was forced to switch over to digital cameras. Now I have at-least one SLR digital camera, 2 digital cameras and a video camera apart from 2 i-phones with good cameras. The present generation digital cameras do not kindle your creativity like the old cameras did. taking photos is really a ‘child’s play’ today. Any defect in the photos can be managed with software. But we cannot blame the change as our job is made easier and quicker.
In the fifties and sixties, in all the middle class houses, one can see a lot of framed B & W photos hanging in a row, all around the wall in the drawing hall. They talked to us the history of our families. Apart from that, many photos used to be in the steel ‘trunk box’. We could recognize our lost grandparents through such photos only. In my childhood I used to love, seeing those photos. I have seen my father and uncle wearing bush coats during the British period and see the boyhood photos of my elder brothers. Now there is no such culture, because people keep few photos only on the walls. As everything is digitized now, all are stored in electronic format. Preparing printed albums have declined drastically and restricted to marriage events mainly. Even I have fallen into that habit and I have now at-least 200 GB of photos which are sleeping in my laptop. After a few years they may be just ‘electronic dust’. (Words borrowed from the movie).
My elder brother who loves photography, used to take photos even today (he is 82 now) wherever he goes. He used to print all the photos and make an album quoting the day of the event. I feel that he spends a handsome amount of his pension for this! Capturing and keeping the memories alive is something to be appreciated. On seeing the Netflix movie, my wife requests me to organize all the photos taken by me over the 39 years of our married life and make printed albums out of them. Printed books and printed photos are soon going to be history, like telegrams, postal orders, inland letters, greeting cards, video cassettes etc. Before printing technology also says ‘goodbye’ to us I must do it. I am starting the process tomorrow. After retirement I have plenty o time now at my disposal and it may be a good exercise for my memory center too! My family’s future generations may also have something to giggle at!
If anybody is going to visit my home beware! You may have to go through a lots of albums!