A small, but not too light, black (mostly) rectangular box-like gadget with a round lens in front, a few buttons on the top or side, an extra square block of light called the "flash", a coma-like fixture that was the rewind button...this is my first image of a camera. One had to slide open its back and insert a film roll (an act I still haven't perfected), close it, do a random 1-2 clicks to check if all's well and you're ready to go. What I loved most was how the tiny almost dot-like number screen jumped everytime a click was made. Most film rolls gave you a maximum of 36 clear pictures, while some would give you a bonus of 1 or 2 more pictures.
The film roll was the most crucial element of the camera, and also often the most forgotten. How many of us can recall at least one incident wherein we went click, click, click only to realise we had forgotten to 'load' the camera!
Soon the blacks gave way to brighter, more attractive colours, that came in lightweight forms, especially for kids. The shapes too had minor alterations: oval, cartoon characters, etc. Bu the mechanism basically remained the same: load batteries, load film, do a check click, and of course do not forget to rewind after the clicks. Soon there were auto rewind models introduced which would do the job automatically once the film roll was complete.
The rolls showed only a series of blackish greyish images, and we'd rush to the studio to give color n life to these images. There's this exciting wait for a few days, wherein we are hoping the photographs turn out just the way we want and secretly praying that all our un-impressive shots get magically developed into stunners. The minute we get the cover with the photographs, all heads n hands come together. Soon there are giggles, laughter, comments, exclamatory sighs and wows...For days we'd be checking out the photographs, and enjoying the moments.
Somehow my father never was too keen on cameras or was it that he didn't enjoy photography at all. But I have seen some interesting pictures of his from his long-haired, side-burn-style college days to the more refined, Ray Ban-wearing business man days and now to the khadi-clad, salt n pepper bearded grandfather days. Guess he preferred being a model to photographer and so never quite felt the need to own a camera. But I did manage to find one when I needed, thanks to loving uncles and friends. Today the images gifted by those cameras lie suffocated in thick albums, stacked away in some dusty corner of some shelf in my room. Until a few years ago, I did flip through them occasionally and it never once failed to ignite a spark of nostalgia in me. Almost all the pictures had a story to tell: of friendship, fights, after-fight handshakes, lovers' tiff, childhood romances, secret crushes, favourite teachers...and of course the now-shocking haircuts and dresses.
Today film rolls are almost extinct. Digital cameras that are sleek, colorful, higher in clarity and absolutely easy to use have taken over. Today the process is much simpler, No film rolls, no rewind buttons, no running to studios and of course no albums to gather dust. It's just click and view. And if you aren't happy, you can just delete it and re-shoot. Very few get transferred to actual prints, while most others get 'posted' onto 'online albums' like Picasa, Kodak Gallery, etc. Definitely far more easier and faster, but the spontaneity and fun of the moment is lost because most snaps are rehearsed and perfected.
Many of my friends have, in the recent days, been 'uploading' albums titled Back then, Good Ol' Days, Nostalgia, etc...and each of them is a collection of snapshots from the past, some blurred, some hazy images of the days bygone. The clarity is missing, but the emotion is alive. Thank you my loved ones for once again taking me back in time when people had more time, when life was simpler, more fun, less pretentious, and relationships were wrapped in emotions, love, sensitivity, and some crazy drama too. Cheers to the good times!
(PS: I will put up some pics from the good times as soon as I retrieve them from their dusty dungeon.)