Back when I started my blog and was a highly idealistic blogger, I made a pact with myself – everything I put up here will be something I made. Thus, the boring seaside picture that is my gravatar, and even my header for a long time was a picture from the same seaside trip, of my sandalled feet.
Since then, I have lowered my expectations and started letting other people into my blog, dead or living, through quotes and more significantly for this post, through pictures. To an extent, I had no choice. I often did not have pictures I took for posts I had written. And, I had realised that if I couldn’t entice my readers with an image at the top of my long, rambling essay, I would hardly get them at all in this blink-and-you-miss attention span of the internet. No, I will make you blink with my overbright 600*400 picture, but it will compel you to come to me, not look away.
But, I’ve been recently considering taking up the camera again. I never told you about it, but I was quite a click-happy cameraperson. There is nothing to tell really, because if I did, you would presume I have DSLRs, analog cameras, and wear oversized trousers and a hat and look domineeringly intelligent. But, I am not Annie Leibovitz, and unlike my other artistic aspirations, I have no ambition in photography. But, there was a time when I would happily take pictures of whatever caught my fancy, with my digital camera and my phone. Such happiness would have served me in the last year as I wrote this blog, but I had lost my enthusiasm before that. And mainly because of two things – a) I seemed to have seen it all before, and b) I didn’t want to feel like a celebrity.
I have seen it all before, including my face. It is not like I am (irritating modern term alert) averse to taking selfies. I just don’t have one of those faces that may look infinitesimally different from one picture to another, but in a way that makes both pictures stand on their own aesthetically. Maybe a photographer could tell me how to make that work, but apart from silly group photos and those passport size ones that oblige you to look dead, somehow thinking that increases your job prospects, I don’t get photographed. And yet, I feel as Tom Cruise would have felt ten or fifteen years ago. There’s always a camera on me wherever I go, whether I want it or not. CCTVs, friends and acquaintances insisting on pictures that look fun and promote solidarity, more than actually practising fun and solidarity, surreptitious people on buses and streets, there seems to be a movie-starriness in me that I can’t, for the life of me, fathom. And as some of you may know about my highly-sensitive eyes, flash photography is not kind to me.
I do miss taking pictures of the world around me. Contrary to what this self-absorbed blog of mine may indicate, I spend very little time fussing about myself, and more about what’s around me. I have a constant wanderlust, even if that gets satiated by watching the evening sky for two hours. But, nearly everything seems to have a strange sense of deja vu. I don’t need to go to Rome, I’ve already seen everything there is to be seen on YouTube, more than any TV documentary could have shown me. I post a lot about writing, for which I could very well sources images from all my writing tools, and yet, there is no fun in taking a picture of a diary, pen or laptop, because I’ve already seen a gazillion. I feel uninspired.
I’ve been thinking about bringing Of Opinions to the Video Age. I know, I know, the most vitriolic commentary in the world that can be expected aside, I think I can make a decent YouTube channel. Except, could someone please explain how YouTube is a good idea when something like Instagram is out of the question? I can’t reconcile it myself, except I remembered something just today. I used to do amateur theatre, and I found it to be a very freeing experience. I didn’t like looking at stills or even video recordings later on, but there was something in using the tools you are naturally born with – voice, body – and not something like a pen or a brush to express what you have to say. Theatre actually helped me get over my childhood shyness. I discovered a “show” element in me, that wasn’t so much as showing off, as it was showing something to someone. I don’t know what to convey in a selfie, because I don’t know what story I am telling with it. Only two words pop into my mind when I look at my self-portrait – awkward, melancholic. Maybe a bad cover for a book on existential crisis, but not even apt or subversive enough to draw people to actually read that book.
Video, on the other hand, would show me as a thinking, feeling, talking creature. There will still be a 1000 troll-worthy things happening at any given moment, but that’s the internet for you. No one gets spared. Few even get noticed.
How do you feel about taking pictures for your social media?