The Dynamism of Photography

By Dr (Prof) P K M  Pillai, Founder Director, Pillai’s School of Photography.

The very first photographic exposure was made in the mid-1820s, more as a scientific experiment. Despite its relatively late beginnings, it has flourished over the last century, to stake its claim in the world of art. While most art forms are geographically bound or remain in the purview of the fortunate few, photography has gone on to become the world’s most popular hobby. The debate, as to whether photography is an art or a science, or both, continues. But its reach and widespread practice frequently brings forth renditions and perspectives previously unseen, making it one of the most dynamic forms of art.

In the United States, more than 90 percent of all families own one or more cameras, and the nation's amateur photographers take more than 12 billion pictures annually. In India, photography is just beginning to be enjoyed as a hobby amongst the upper and middle classes, and the photography industry is slotted to grow by 40 percent every year.

Ever since cameras embraced digital technology and began to provide impetus to every facet of science and technology, it is also true that the dynamic, ever-changing nature of the art is causing us to lose sight of the potency for the rendition of the art of photography. Great works of modern camera artists like Andreas Gursky and David Hockney are being lost in the visual cacophony of myriads of images that are either more utilitarian or mundane. Today, meaning seems to reign over the abstraction, mystery, aura, and fantasy, which were the hallmarks of the photography of yesterday. It will not be too long before aesthetic values in photographs will again find their rightful place.

No hobby surpasses photography in is potential. It provides a meditative pastime, a passion, and a sense of purpose. It offers physical and mental activity. It connects people. It conveys; it communicates. You express yourself, using a universal language. It helps documentation and research. It brings back pleasant memories of events, people, places and things. At a competitive level, it fosters ambition and drive, and brings about a sense of achievement.

When even cell-phone cameras can make pictures these days, an orientation towards the making of better pictures must give you an advantage. As Mark Twain says: “Training is everything. A rose is only a cabbage with college education.”

Every little girl dances: yet not all of them turn out to the like of Aranmel Valli or Martha Graham. All children draw and paint. Maybe, some of them could become Rembrandts or Picassos, given the right grounding and encouragement.

As far as photography goes, nothing should prevent anyone from ENJOYING photographs. They pervade our world. Developing THE ART OF SEEING enriches your life and offers a greater opportunity for self-expression. The first step in this direction could be a giant leap. If nothing else, you’ll put these idle cameras in the home to better use! Soon, you will experience the dynamism of photography - for yourself.