The freedom movement of India or the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center or the deceased body of a Syrian refugee kid lying on a sea beach, the unearthing of the mighty Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from a bunker or the unfurling of Tiranga by the brave Indian soldiers on the hilly terrains of Kargil celebrating the victory. Every heartening or heart-wrenching incident we recall, a picture comes to our mind immediately. This is because a picture is worth a thousand words.

The picturesque mountains of the Himalaya or the beautiful migratory birds of the Chilika Lake, the roaring lions of Africa or the Olive Ridley turtles on the banks of the Rushikulya river, the Statue of Liberty or the magnificent Sun temple of Konark, all these bring a series of images to our mind. Our brain is designed and programmed in such a way that whatever we remember is only in the form of an image.

The text, the verse, and the numerical, everything create their own images in the mind. Experts who work for developing the memory of a person do certain practices where every single input is linked with an image. Children in the formative years are taught with pictorial aid – this helps in developing their imagination and retention power. As long as the brain functions, we remember most of the images.

Konark Sun Temple

The person who first thought of capturing images physically needs all appreciation. These images can be stored for years together and each of these tell their own story. Yes, this is the beginning of photography. No doubt that from the time immemorial man has tried the best to capture myriad moods in the form of cave paintings, art, and posters. But everything was just an attempt to make the image a real one, hundred percent similar to the original. Modern photography made it possible to make images real.

Each image is a story in itself. It narrates silently yet effectively the underlying scenario. A perfect photograph not necessarily need an explicit explanation. For example, a photograph of a pigeon quenching the thirst from a tap of water is sufficient to indicate the scorching heat and rising mercury in the nearby area.

Everyday, billions of photographs are captured throughout the world. Smartphones with high quality cameras are easily affordable and available, courtesy the advancement of science and technology. Everyone is a photographer. Each one of us wants to capture time in all possible ways. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram made it easy to share these photographs with the world. People, irrespective of their profession, have a passion for photography. There are multiple websites which provide tips and tricks of photography. YouTube contains plenty of videos that will help a novice shutterbug to hone his/her photography skills. Thanks to technology, the complexity involved in clicking a photograph and developing it in the initial days is no more in scope.

August 19 is celebrated as the World Photography Day. Photographers from across the world share their ideas, thoughts, perceptions and of course photographs with others. This encourages people from different cultures, traditions and geography to come under one umbrella and ideate, opine and gain acceptance. The photography concept came to existence with the invention of Daguerreotype photographic process. It was invented by the Frenchmen Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicephore Niepce in the year 1837. Long ago, on January 9, 1839 the French Academy of Science announced the Daguerreotype process and later the French Government purchased the patent on August 19 same year. The then French Prime Minister Francois Arago announced that “This is a free gift to the world”. Today that free gift has become a part and parcel of everyone.

Photography is the best tool for documentation and storytelling. The action, emotion everything becomes immortal when captured in the form of a photograph. Still photography, in later stages, developed to motion picture. The basic unit of the motion picture or video is the still one. When a series of photographs are captured and played in a speed of 25 pictures per second, that creates the illusion of motion. Be it Hollywood, Bollywood or any other film industry, photo journalism, television channels, video production, all could not have been possible without the invention of photography. So ultimately, the picture or the photograph made all these things possible. Picture plays the role of educating, entertaining and informing people. It captures time and makes and preserves history for the future. Let there be new inventions in the field of photography. Let it narrate the story of every life.

(Written on the occasion of world photography day)

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