You may not have forgotten the prototype of a camera, which stands on the high tripod stand, covered with a black veil. You may even remember that grumbling cameraman who shouts out instructions for at least half an hour before taking the first snap, his two light boys who hold up big electric torches and occasionally an assistant who holds out an umbrella at an oblique angle to prevent unnecessary light from entering the camera.The camera was an object of wonder to all the kids. A few of them actually managed to touch the camera when the cameraman is not watching. Let me share with you my experience of viewing two school photographs of 10 th grade students, one taken in 1975, and the other taken in 2008.
The 1975 photograph has a painted iron frame, rusting at the edges. It is covered with a thin glass sheet on the front and a cardboard on the rear end. The long and narrow photograph has yellowed with age. The school seal is pressed over the photograph. The school officials are sitting in the front row and the students are standing in two rows. None of them is smiling. The boys have oiled hair, parted neatly into two equal halves. They have pockets with flaps, one on each side of the chest. Only two girl students are seen in the photo, and both are wearing Saree. Their oiled hair is neatly pleated and stretches beyond their shoulders. Two people, one teacher and one student, are blinking. All of them are focusing on the camera.
The black-and-white-photo is an ample proof for the fact that that, back in 1975, God was yet to invent colours.
The 2008 photograph is laminated and the date of taking the photograph is printed in bold letters on top of the photograph. The school officials are sitting in the front row, the girls are standing in the next two rows, and the boys occupy the last two rows. All of them are wearing uniforms. A few boys have their hands in their pockets and the rest of the boys have their hand around the next person’s neck. All of them are smiling or laughing. They are not staring intently at the camera, but are looking carelessly at it. Not everybody has combed their hair. Some boys have pierced one ear to wear an earring. Most of the girls have let their hair loose. Over one-fourth of the students are wearing spectacles. None of them is blinking. The background of the photograph is the crimson red sky.
This is how times change, and photographs too.