I have been pathetically camera conscious for most part of my life. The moment I know someone is taking my picture, I tend to stiffen, I don’t know where to look, and I smile weirdly. It’s not hard to guess the end result. The awkwardness is evident and most of the time, I hate to look at my own pictures. I delete them more often than I keep them. Getting pictures clicked is an onerous task, which I would totally avoid if I could. I envy the selfie enthusiasts who seem to get that pout right every time and I am always in awe of those perfectly pastel wedding albums.

That brings me to my wedding pictures…… well, the less we say about them, the better it is. Like most Indian weddings my wedding was also quite emotionally and physically taxing. However, the photographer seemed quite set on his task of creating a perfect wedding album for us. He expected a graceful pose with a flawless smile for every photograph. It almost felt like I was there for a grand photo shoot and not for my own wedding. Getting pictures taken was the most tormenting part of my wedding, to the extent that towards the end, I threatened to walk away if any more photos were taken.

Cut to 2023. Last week we had our annual obesity surgery conference in Mumbai. It was a 4 days long affair and of course there was a “photographer”. Usually, most of us would not pay much attention to a photographer in a routine surgical conference. After all, it is not exactly a wedding! However, here was this middle-aged person, impeccably dressed in a jacket and with a very interesting expression on his face. A face that brings about a smile on another face. One look at him and you have no option but to smile. He went around bouncing on his feet, taking pictures, making small talk, cracking jokes and making everyone laugh. He had a persona that was very hard to ignore. I guess, all those who attended the conference will agree that getting pictures clicked felt quite natural and to some extent even enjoyable. For the next 4 days, he worked with the same fervour and his passion for photography went miles beyond being just a job. By the time the conference came to an end, we were on first name basis and I was happy to know that he was a proud father of a dental student. He shared with a lot of pride that though he couldn’t study much, his children were doing very well academically.

I am sure he made a deep impact on many of us who attended the meeting. I guess it is not about what you do, it is about how you do it. A simple task of taking pictures can be done so differently by two different people. Not only was he passionate about what he did, he also connected with each one of us at a personal level. He worked for about 15 hours everyday and yet had a smile on his face at the end of every day. He danced when we danced, he laughed when we laughed and he clicked hundreds of pictures. I am yet to see the pictures but for the first time I didn’t mind being photographed, infact, I actually enjoyed it.

This one is dedicated to you Naresh Bhai! Thank you for your efforts.

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

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