by Swatee Jog
Years ago, when we bought our first Nikon from the newly opened Harsha, we felt a sense of achievement. It was digital, had different modes and was compact, though it cost a bomb at that time. It was a revolution from my first Snapper camera bought at Ramannavar studios at Khade Bazar which didn’t even have a flash and hence I took my kid brother out in the sunlight for every click. That camera was bought for mere Rs. 350 in 1988. Often, I borrowed the detachable flash from my cousin. Then came the very famous Kodak KB10 which even had its own share of advertising. That camera, with flash, still remains the most cherished possession in my childhood cupboard till date.
Funnily enough, now I don’t use that Nikon anymore, since the time my big 5.5 “ phone can take superb pics. What is it about phone cameras that have made them so endearing? Firstly, perhaps the ease of handling just one device that can click, edit, filter, store, group, send via Bluetooth and even get uploaded on social media within minutes, without ever needing a whimper of a wire. We all experience the magic of the phone camera in our daily lives. At concerts, the phones flash brighter than the lights in the hall, the wedding hall sees enough selfies to fill hard disks, the college trips have different versions of the same and even an accident or a fire finds onlookers casually pulling out their phones and going clickety click.
Terraces, mirrors, the Fort Lake, college gardens and corridors, stairs, plain walls, Mr. Ronald McDonald, bikes, holding the car’s top are all good backdrops for a selfie. It’s all so easy and fun that a new kind of photo revolutions seems imminent. The lady at the clinic’s waiting room merrily shoots her kid frolicking and the college crowd happily uploads the selfie every few days. Just have a look at the Facebook profiles and you’ll find more selfies than actual members. Now there are newer terms, Groufie or group selfie ( which, I read, has been Trademarked by Huawei of China), Helfie (to show how hellish your bad-hair day has been), Belfie( well….), Drelfie ( taken in a drunken state), etc.
What is it about photos and human beings that even a small child smilingly poses for photos? Selfies, perhaps give the young ones a sense of well being when they have their best angle shot by themselves, without depending on a photographer. It’s a little awkward to ask somebody take your pictures all the time or when you look the best, again and again. Better to aim and shoot yourself. Selfies also make a person comfortable and brings out the informal look, at times innocent, at others- naughty. Tongues stuck out, winking eye, smaller chin, best profile forward…Ahhh! The pleasures of a selfie. At first, I’d cringe at the thought of a selfie, but now I realize it is not Narcissism but just a way to feel good. Today’s large screen cameras also allow for a good Groufie with at least 5-6 people easily fitting into the frame. And since no one’s out of the frame, it’s a joy fest literally. I see scores of college students around me especially during college fests or special programs, when the selfie and groufie craze becomes an epidemic. The boys bring on that stylish pose while the girls flatter their eyes and flaunt that pout for the camera. A picnic of the students can be followed minute by minute sitting at campus, what with students posting the selfies and groufies right from the station, to the halts and then at every possible event thereafter. Although the teenagers and the millennials use the phone camera more frequently, don’t discount the adults from this craze. Most of these photos may just get lost in the gust of time, but they give joy while they last and that’s what matters!