How it All Began with a Scribble…

 

Even before I began to learn to write, I was drawing, or rather scribbling. From what I remember, my first impressions on the paper were circles, which grew complex as the years grew. They became so elaborate and intricate that they ceased to have a time and place. I would doodle anywhere… in the train, in between classes, at the bus stop, wherever I found the time. What I enjoyed and became interested in was the effect that my pen had over paper. It wasn’t something that I was consciously thinking about. My hand seemed to have a mind of its own.

Soon, I began doodling portraits, of friends and individuals that I had come to admire. My process involved copying the lines that inhabited a person’s face, using carbon paper. What I did next was inject life into them, through colours and patterns. I would sit for hours, meticulously drawing tiny circles resembling tadpoles, without realising how subconscious and therapeutic the entire act was. Then it all came to an abrupt end, somewhere around 2014. Suddenly, my pen felt heavy and no longer possessed the same weightlessness that I had come to enjoy and love. The drawing stopped and the restlessness began.

Around this time, I began shooting with my phone. Not because I wanted to do it, but was forced out of obligation. The ugliness of the latter showed. My pictures appeared contrived, like attempting to join the dots that did not exist. But I grudgingly kept at it, and it’s now slowly starting to pay off. My early photographs were what my scribbled circles were. The only problem was that I hadn’t allowed my camera to take the lead. I was thinking too much about the kind of photographs I wanted to make, instead of letting them happen to me. This was an important lesson, and one that continues to surface every time that I become a little too impatient or desperate for moments to photograph. Now that I have taken a step back, I am happy and a little less restless. Maybe it’s time that I got back to my pens too.

This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Better Photography.

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