This is a photograph from my first film roll.I had never focussed on taking pictures before design school. I'd never managed to get close to a camera, never summed up the courage to ask to examine one, either.
When I was a child, I once told my mother I'd like to try using a camera, and she shook her head saying it was a hobby for rich people, rolls were expensive, so was developing, I would have to metre out each photograph, it was like taking up playing golf, she said. I laugh when I think of her explanation now. I never questioned it. We had code words between us since the time we were little, like whenever we were running out of money, she'd ask me to think more before asking her to buy me potato chips when we were out, for some time. When the dry period passed by, she'd get me a packet of potato chips herself, and I'd know I could ask her for them the next time I felt like some.
The camera as an object was strange, all the technicalities aside, I wondered how I would ever manage to convey the tangle of patterns in my head through a single image. It felt like such a responsibility to have to get the colours right. It felt disrespectful to not be true to the light I saw. I didn't want to waste any film.
This picture is from the first assignment, with 'balance' as the subject, the instructors wanted us to focus on lines, on complementary weights in terms of colour and object as opposed to a literal translation of the word. I had just spent 5 years in an engineering college, no one had ever asked me to explore the lateral, the tangents, seep into them, try layering them, ever before. And when you're practicing on images in a country like India, it demands you shoot pictures also respecting the delicate balance people create to go on living.
Sometimes, it does feel like playing golf.