Old Photographs

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or at least it used to be.

I remember quite a few lazy Sundays in my childhood going through old photographs. We had a drawer filled with them, from the old faded, grainy ones taken when my grandparents were younger, to the brighter, more relaxed, holiday snaps and photos of family outings. I used to love going through that drawer. My sister and I spent hours organising and reorganising it, choosing the best pictures for the few photo albums we had. I think we valued those photographs so much because there were so few of them.

I will never forget the first time I took a photograph. I had just turned 6, and we were on a family holiday to India, and after days of pestering my dad, he finally let me take one photo. My tiny fingers could barely hold the camera and reach the shutter button at the same time, but I still remember the excitement I felt in that moment, the satisfaction I felt when I heard that click. And I was hooked. My parents bought me my first camera at the age of 10, on a trip to a safari lodge at the base of Mount Kenya, and I remember painstakingly choosing each shot carefully as I was only allowed one roll of film.

Remember the days before the digital camera? When you had to buy rolls of film of 24 or 36 photos, and had to get them developed afterwards. We had a limit on the number of photos we could take so each picture was taken with the utmost care. The invention of the digital camera has made it possible (and normal) to snap about 80 pictures of the same view, until you finally get one that you like.

As much as I like the ease in which we can capture moments today, photography, like much else, seems to have advanced in ways that cater more to our vanity than anything else. I still feel joy at looking at photos of my childhood self, laughing hysterically with abandon. Today, most people know their best angles and pose for every photo, and the result of those photos are never as good, because although we may look our best in them, they do not evoke any feelings at all.

Choosing each shot carefully was like creating a work of art and each picture was worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, today, it seems like a thousand pictures are worth one word, and that word is usually ‘Selfie’.

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