It Has Become So Easy to Remember… But Do We?


This article was originally published in November 2015.

Back in 2002, I was graduating from high school, and I decided to make pictures of the day. There was no such thing as cellphone photography back then, so I resorted to using my trusty Kodak camera and went about the day. I photographed my teachers, my classmates and my friends, with whom I’d make my daily bus journey with.

It’s been 13 years since that day, and I have been unable to find those photographs. I wonder if that roll of film was even developed, because I don’t remember seeing them. But the frames I made are vivid in my mind, each shot revealing a memory of simpler times. This is such a stark juxtaposition to the state of my cellphone today, which is filled with photographs that have been shot every single day since I purchased my phone a year back.

And yet, I find that most of the photographs I scrolled through hold little to no memory for me… these photos merely exist on my phone. Is it because it has become so easy to simply press a button and make a photo, that we have lost sight of what is really memorable and what isn’t? Have we become such compulsive photographers, in search of the elusive moment, that we shoot whatever we can in order to achieve it?

I simply cannot discount the fact that cellphone photography has made the practice so accessible and made the diaspora a very democratic one. But there’s a reason why you still look at your analogue photo albums from the past with fondness. Each of the 36 frames in a roll of film inadvertently captured something special, simply because there was no scope of wasting film. I wonder, should we adopt a similar policy in cellphone photography too? Perhaps restricting ourselves to a certain amount of photos per moment can truly open our eyes to what really matters. I’m starting over, myself. My cellphone gallery is now clean.

Tags: Supriya Joshi, Editorial, cellphone photography, November 2015