As smartphones are getting smarter, sleeker and almost weightless, DSLRs continue to maintain their masculine bulky body with super heavy lens. With all smart features and every possible editing tool on the phone I sometimes get tempted to leave my chunky DSLR behind and use only my smartphone. Well I would confess I do love to click with my phone at times, as it's quick, smart and always available! As if by fluke sometimes, some pictures turn out so well that it almost insults my several years of training in DSLR photography. But there is a big difference!
If I go back a little further in time when film was the only option available to take pictures, then it clears up my thought process. There were only 36 exposures max in a roll of film (for miniature cameras) and now that feels like almost living on a tight budget. When you have to live on a tight budget you know what to spend on and what to leave out. You filter your needs and live with focus and thought. With the digital era taking over and films on extinction, it feels like ...freedom!? Well maybe my mentors who have clicked only film sometime back would know better as I only took up photography seriously after DSLRs were fully out in the market. I do know how much time, patience and thought process it took to take an exposure on film cameras. I'm sure people of my generation (M Tv,gen x that is) all have clicked with film on the very popular Kodak and Minolta cameras and gone to studios to get the films developed. We used to click sparingly and after checking the number of exposures left on the film roll we decided what to click. I even remember picking up ISO 400 film always because the pictures turned out brighter and we looked fairer! And how bad it felt when the complete film roll sometimes would come out blank and wasted. Pictures would be taken on either special occasions or travelling with family and few of babies in the family. Many people took it up as a hobby that time also and invested in cameras and their accessories. Remember the Yashica. I was unknowingly the photographer of my family. Any new camera that was bought always came to be in my custody. Because of my interest in photography, our family album has a few good memories well documented and preserved today. I've saved films of more than 30 years as a back up in case of any damage to the hard copies.
But photography is more than all that. Times will keep on changing and technology will keep on improving. Cell phone companies will keep churning out an improved version every two months. With the digital era taking over, although we are documenting our times in whatever way possible, we need to calm down and know what we are doing. Like in earlier times there may be one good picture of our parents or grandparents in our family albums, now there are hundred bad ones. Technology is meant to improve our quality of life. We are supposed to use technology to our advantage and not let technology use us. With every shortcoming in our ability to take good pictures there is the birth of a new mobile camera phone. Technology is meant to reduce boundaries and make things accessible. However no technology on this earth can compensate for a good memory and experience. Good pictures can only remind us of the emotions behind the picture while preserving them. I see pictures being taken endlessly with mobile cameras everywhere and anywhere and when they are seen on computer screens they are horribly blurred or taken badly. And there are pictures that are being taken all the time for no reason at all. As if documenting every moment and every dress worn in life is more important than living life itself. And above all I don't think they are being saved well either.
So what is the point of this advancement in technology when we are loosing ourselves into it. And when we don't even have a single picture to frame. What is the point of buying the expensive smartphone with the 12 megapixel camera when you can't even take one picture, which is worth framing and ironically you find hiring a photographer expensive. Whichever good pictures we have are probably taken at somebody's event, which the host has been generous enough to share or in an event organised by you where you were wise to call a photographer. Otherwise you have no record. And above all think all the moments lost when you are merely clicking away endless blurred pictures in an event just to document a moment when you could be catching up with relatives or friends whom you meet occasionally. Won't a only few good pictures be enough to sum up the meeting? Because there are no films and the unwanted pictures can be deleted is there a need to click unwanted pictures. It is more important to ‘take’ good pictures than to take a good mobile camera every year, knowing all mobile cameras these days are good.
Another important thing is our need to have everything in our phones, just like we expect everything in our one special relationship (pun intended)! We expect our phones to have all best features besides having the best camera as well. We do not even want to carry a compact point and shoot camera anymore as well. In my experience, while the camera phone is always there I feel we should be using a proper camera to take serious pictures. Each to do its job best.
While I have pointed out the flaws so far it is important to mention the many advantages of this technological surge as well. It gives us immense amount of freedom to express our creative selves. We bond over selfies and it's fun. It's easier to document the memories in cloud storage or on Facebook. There is no need to create massive amounts of space to store hard copies etc. Although it was a creative process to make family albums but one need not print everything. There is more sharing of pictures on the internet which keeps us in touch with relatives and friends.
While we rely on our smartphones for family pictures I seek this opportunity to remind people of hiring photographers to click their families sometimes. Either go to their studios or get yourself clicked at home. Have good pictures to put up on your walls. Or else get yourself painted on canvas. A portfolio does not mean you aspire to be a model but it means you want to have good memories of yourself and for future generations to come.
Reference pictures are of some families i loved to click and who knew the importance of family portraits.
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