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A long, long time ago...

A long, long time ago, I took my first photograph. I remember it to be awful. It was dark. It was anything but nice. I could hardly make out what I might have been trying to shoot! But it was exciting! That was the day and age when you put in a reel of film into a camera, aimed at a subject, pressed a button and clicked it. Then you had to do this 35 more times till you could give the reel for developing, all while paying a small fortune for this, and a few days later, you got back 36 prints and a strip of negatives. In my case, every single one of them was awful!

But it was very exciting! One corner of one photograph looked good! Had I intended that corner to be the part that looked good? Probably not. But hey, when you're at the bottom of the pit, every ray of sunshine makes a difference, right? And that was what it was. I was looking for a ray of sunshine. Literally. I discovered the hard way, that light was important for a good photograph. Along the way, I've learned that there are other important things too, but light is definitely one of the important pre-requisites for a good photograph. I've changed my definition of the kind of light I might use over the years, but at that moment, it was a revelation!

There I was, a 16 year old armed with my first SLR camera, gifted to me by my eldest brother, bought from a garage sale. He studied in the US then, and would forage garage sales to find lenses and cameras that he would bring back to my middle brother and myself in India, where we lived. In India, there is a lot of sunlight. There is a lot of color. Lots of great things to photograph. But girls did not dabble with things like photography. At least the good girls from respectable families didn't. Thanks to my father, I did. He himself had loved photography in his college days, and did everything he could to encourage me to take pictures. My brother and I had a darkroom in our shared bedroom. My brother was older than me and was working, while I was still in college. So he got to buy the enlarger, the chemicals and spend all the money on this fun stuff, while I got to take photographs and learn how to process it. We would cover the windows with black chart paper at night, change out the light in the room to a red bulb, and it was there that I discovered magic. Unleashed creativity. Learned more about myself than I ever had, up to then.

I fell in love. Hook, line and sinker.

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