On Photography and Democracy

 
The BP Selfie. Top to bottom, left to right: Supriya Joshi, Shridhar Kunte, Naimish Keswani, Rahul Sharma, Santosh Kamble, Conchita Fernandes, Natasha Desai, Tanvi Dhulia, Mahesh Jadhav, Aditya Nair and K Madhavan Pillai. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

The BP Selfie. Top to bottom, left to right: Supriya Joshi, Shridhar Kunte, Naimish Keswani, Rahul Sharma, Santosh Kamble, Conchita Fernandes, Natasha Desai, Tanvi Dhulia, Mahesh Jadhav, Aditya Nair and K Madhavan Pillai. Photograph/Supriya Joshi

My 18th birthday was 10 years ago, a time when cameraphone technology was still at a very nascent stage. In fact, most cellphones did not even come with a camera attached to them. I do remember this one incident back in college, when the girl who would sit next to me showed me her new cellphone. What was special about it was that it came equipped with a VGA camera. This was a huge deal, needless to say. It also goes without saying that I was insanely jealous of her new possession.

It has taken less than 10 years for cellphone photography to evolve into what it stands for today. It has gone from a novelty to an absolute necessity and an essential medium of self-expression. In fact, Apple has been doing a rather innovative campaign these days, by lining the city with huge billboards displaying a user-submitted image that says it has been shot with an iPhone.

According to me, cameraphones have made photography a more democratic space. Take Instagram, for instance, which allows any person in the world to upload whatever photograph they would like to. The drawback of this democracy is, of course, that one has to deal with frivolity on their Instagram feeds too.

But then again, who are we to define what frivolous is? Who are we to say that a selfie is not as important as a well-composed, thought out image? The ultimate goal of a photograph, according to me, is to make you smile when you look at it. That’s why, to celebrate Better Photography’s 18th birthday, I decided to take a selfie with all the members and interns of the edit team. It wasn’t planned and it isn’t the best photograph, compositionally. But I know that when I look at this photo 18 years later, it will make me smile.

Tags: Anniversary Issue, better photography, cellphone photography, june 2015, Supriya Joshi edit note