There’s a Story in Here, Somewhere


A few days ago, I was narrating a story to a friend of mine, a story of how I met this girl. My friend heard me out for what must have been the eleventh time, and then said, “You only ramble, don’t you? All this while, you’ve mentioned these stupid quirks and random instances, but I still don’t know what exactly happened.”

But then, I have always loved the odd ramble or two… the minute details, the most commonplace of goings on, the most inane things that nobody would really care about. So when I look back and actually try to recall how I met someone, I probably don’t remember. I have vague memories alright, but there is no dramatic moment I can pinpoint. It’s only the periphery that dominates my mindspace.

“There are no little events with the heart. It magnifies everything. It places in the same scale the fall of an empire of fourteen years and the dropping of a woman’s glove. And almost always, the glove weighs more than the empire.” Jimmy, an old Parsi gentleman with a twinkle in his eye and nostalgia in his voice, had once said these words to that same friend of mine. As I was reminded of the conversation, I started searching for pictures, hoping that what I had shot would help me build my memory in a more defined way. But the photographs, even the ones that were most personal, seemed to have a mind of their own. There was no direct photograph of the girl I spoke of, just a bunch of moments that happened alongside. Maybe it is because I have always enjoyed that kind of imagery more. One that doesn’t tell me everything, but inspires me to connect the dots, in whatever way I want. Photography, for some, has all the answers. For me, however, a photograph is usually the starting of a question.

The one you are photographing is not a subject. He or she is a fellow being. The camera is often a barrier to this, though phones, with their constraints, urge us to go closer, not just physically, but emotionally. Converse, observe and feel. The most intimate of photographic moments happen when are least expecting them. But then, they are always the little events, the ones that still weigh so much.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Better Photography.