Looking For Happiness


Santana Demello. From the time I was born, I have been my grandmother’s favourite. For years, I have enjoyed this status, but have been unable to reciprocate the emotion. To a certain extent, I have felt guilty about it, and my photographs are a way of acknowledging her love towards me. Photograph/Conchita Fernandes

The relationship I share with my grandmother has always been a little hard to explain. I am not overtly fond of her, but I don’t dislike her either. Recently, however, things changed when she came over to stay with me. Over the course of a few weeks, I managed to work around her presence. Now, instead of feeling indifferent, I began to engage in conversations, and soon enough, I found myself making pictures of her.

For someone who rarely photographs her family, the fact that I reached out for my cellphone to make portraits of my grandmother, is both unusual and surprising. At the time though, I did not realise this, and the thought only occurred to me much later, when a friend was curious about the photographs I had shot. He wanted to know about my grandmother and the nature of our relationship, to which I had nothing sentimental or interesting to offer. Being a photographer himself, he found it intriguing, that despite the distance, I was at some subconscious level trying to connect with her.

This statement really got me thinking about why we photograph our families, even though we sometimes don’t share a very close relationship with a few of its members. And when we do make the pictures, what are the circumstances like. Most often, I have found that the situations are usually happy ones, so that when the picture is made, the maker has nothing but good memories of the person. These are also the photographs that we go back to, every time that happiness eludes us. I suppose by making portraits of my grandmother, I was trying to save a good moment we shared. In a way, the cellphone allowed me to connect with her in more ways than one. May be the next time someone asks me to describe our relationship, I will have something worthwhile to say.

Tags: portraits, family, Conchita Fernandes, cellphone photography, love, Better Cellphone Photography, Edit note, June 2016, Grandparents, Photoghraphy, Grandmother, Old Age, Granddaughter