There is a sudden mad rush to click anything that stands still for more than 10 seconds , edit, develop, publish and publicise it. More and more students are taking up photography, as a hobby and some seriously with aims to reach new heights in this specialised field. Almost every college fest organises online and on-spot photography contests and offers exciting prizes /interviews with renowned photographers, aiming to bring to light budding talent. Photography, as a viable career option, is gaining popularity with various institutions offering full-time and part-time courses. Ambitions4 and Shashikant School of Photography, are two leading institutes that offer Diplomas in Photography.Societies such as The Chennai Photography Club started by a few photography enthusiasts in Tamil Nadu encourage interest in Photography among the youth. “Never mind if you don't have a Digital SLR or Manual SLR too. CPC is for everyone who loves the art,” reads their advertisement.
Manoj Kumar Natrajan, a professional photographer, Witcher Studios, fell in love with the art when he was just in Class 6. “I was in Std. 6 and for the first time entered my Uncle’s studio. I looked around at the photographs framed and put up on the walls. It was incredible to capture the best moments of one’s life forever. It took my breath away and it was love at the first sight,” he recalls. It started out as a hobby for him, attending competitions and taking photographs at college functions. Today, he is the proud owner of Witcher Studios located in Vadapalani, Chennai.When asked about the type of camera Manoj prefers to use, he says, “Personally, I would say it is not the camera, but the ability of the eyes behind the lens that matters. The photographer gives life to the photograph, not the camera.” And what more, he seems to have inspired a lot of his fellow juniors from his Alma Mater, SSNCE. Sudarshan Ravikumar, 4th year, CSE student is an ardent admirer of Manoj’s photographs. “He taught me most of what I know today”, he claims, himself being a free-lance photographer. Sudharshan started out with a L70 in 2006. “I initially took a lot of bad pictures, wasted lot of rolls and it picked my pocket,” he says laughingly. “With the advent of digital cameras, I was free to experiment,” he adds. Now he uploads his best clicks in his Facebook page - Sudarshan Ravikumar Photography.
Venkatesh Uma, pursuing Civil Engineering in SSNCE, took up a 3-month course with Ambitions4 and is an enthusiastic beginner. He started off with taking pictures in mobile phones. His family spotted his knack to click the right things at the right time and encouraged him in his pursuit. “The course helped me to look at photography at a whole new professional level. I learnt loads”, he says. He was one of the official photographers for Instincts, SSNCE’s cultural fest last year. He intends to keep it a hobby and doesn’t publish any of his photographs, not even on a Facebook page. “I don’t need/want the publicity. I do it because I like it, because I want to”.
But yes, DSLRs seem to be the cameras of the digital age. “Just five years back 99% of the customers who purchased DSLRs were professional photographers. Nowadays, even others have begun to buy DSLRs,” says Seiji Hamanishi, Assistant Director, Imaging Communications Product Group, Cannon India. The main advantages of a digital SLR camera are less image noise at high-sensitivities, interchangeable lenses, a reflex viewfinder (unique only to DSLRs) and much faster speed of operation. However, much debate has been raised regarding its affordability. Even the cheapest DSLR is priced above most fixed-lens digital cameras where one or more lens is included. “Real photography involves technicalities like focusing and composition which are automated in the DSLR and hence no way to judge the talent of a photographer,” says Adithyan, Student of Mechanical Engineering who is also a passionate photographer. “It is saddening to see that most photography contests in the city make DSLRs a pre-requisite and not all of us can afford it,” he adds. On the contrary, Vibhu.R, a beginner in this field believes that DSLRs are a blessing in disguise to amateurs since it is the editing that brings out the talent within a photographer, whatever the camera. So, what is the next step after one takes a photograph? Naturally, upload on Facebook! A random entry in the search box returns numerous pages and groups on photography. “I own a Nikon 3100 myself but am actually against using DSLRs without entirely learning about all the features the camera offers. There are genuinely good photographers out there, I agree, but there is also the other set that clicks and uploads anything and everything they fancy. It is really annoying when people send requests to like their pages. Most of them believe mere clicking with a DSLR constitutes photography”, says Devi Bhagya, 2nd year student, Chemical Engineering.
And there are many more out there, going “click-click” at almost everything that catches their eye. Yes, “Say cheese” is the word today !
Author credit: Akshaya Bhat