Thursday, August 18, 2005

Behind the Photo-Developing Counter

I am an avid photographer. My interests in this field are quite diverse. From shooting wildlife, engaging in night photography, to taking portraits of people, and so forth… I have found myself, at times, mimicking the hunter who is out to catch his prey. With his trusty rifle and binoculars, the hunter makes sure to have his sights set on his target. In the same way, I shoot with a camera. My bullet, however, is light, in its refraction of colors.

I wait. This happens quite often, especially when I have a scene which I want to capture in a particular way. But waiting is something I have learned to appreciate only as I immerse myself in the art of the craft. I went on a trip with a professional photographer once. He had set up his equipment atop a balcony. His camera was on a tripod: its sights set at the cloud formations above. We waited for over half an hour before he started to unpack his things: taking the camera off its stand and returning the batteries into their canisters. It was so abrupt that I had not expected it. Why did he suddenly pack up? His countenance seemed as cheerful as it was earlier. I openly shared my puzzlement. His response was very simple. The wind had changed and the clouds were blocking the sun in a way he did not want them to.

I reflected on the photographer’s words and found myself mildly impressed. In this day and age of high-tech speed and fast-food efficiency, a person can still be patient and yet be open to the possibility that his waiting will be for nothing. Well, when I think about it again, is it really for nothing? Have I not been myself a victim of the amateur photographer’s folly of taking pictures left and right, as if I had an endless supply of film and all the money to spend developing them? Have I not found myself with the bane of seeing how useless many of my pictures were anyway? So casual, so unthought-of, and so chaotic, I have seen far too many photos waste away in the corner of my room.

And so I wa
it. There is something profound about the discipline it takes to just sit in a position and wait. There is a certain level of resoluteness, determinism, patience and focus that I would not usually be disposed to when I’m not handling a camera. It’s as if waiting has taken a life of its own – an interior existence brimming with energy even as its exterior seems so dull and inactive. My mind is attentive to details that surround me as I calmly anticipate a composed image in my head. My fingers are sensitive to the sensation of the shutter, the zoom lens and the flash button. The eyes of my imagination look past the colors of my surroundings and frames the possibilities of a photograph within a 4x6 inch mental frame. And then I take my picture. With a whir, the film advances by one.


Sometimes, though, no picture is taken. Birds have flown away, the clouds have lost their interesting forms, and the mountains have hidden their sheen. I laugh to myself and disassemble the camera from the tripod. There will be other moments. I look forward to the next opportunity.

At the photo-developing center, the technician eyes me thoughtfully. He invites me behind the counter to see how my negatives are being processed. His assistant likewise invites me in. She says that this is one of their ways of thanking me for patronizing their outlet. I decline their generosity with a smile.

It takes an hour to have a roll of film developed and for its prints to be processed. Yet another hour of patience. I wait it out. I try to imagine how my photographs will emerge, knowing full well that behind the counter, the technician already sees my pictures unfurl one by one. I envision the good shots I’ve taken, and predict which ones will come out bad. As I wait, I relish the whole creative process, allowing myself the space to breathe in the experience of the art. In this way, I mature in the craft I have chosen.


With the final product of pictures released, the waiting comes to an end. I gaze slowly at the works of art that have been created, or smirk at the ones that have come across as parodies. My mind takes all these images in. And once again, the process o
f waiting begins. It begins anew with the lessons I have learned, with the longing to take to the field with my camera once more and wait for the opportunity to capture moments again.

6 Comments:

Blogger Angel said...

hi bro! musta na? wow, love your pics! (and the opm songs you choose)! keep on taking them and keep on posting! :)

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