Frames Freezes Over

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Che Ernesto Guevara was a key figure of the Cuban Revolution. His stylised visage has become a unique countercultural symbol and global insignia. The particular photo which has become an icon was taken by Alberto Korda, a Cuban photographer who closely followed the revolution with his camera. Korda took it at a memorial service in 1960 in which Che Guevara was in his usual star-stud beret over his long-grown hair. When Korda died in 2001, BBC in an online report stated that Maryland Institute College of Art, US had called the picture a symbol of the 20th century and the world’s most famous photo recognizing the image’s overwhelming appeal. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, went on to say that the photo has been reproduced more than any other image in photography. Indeed this is the power of camera to immortalise an image and freeze the moment with it. Equally powerful are the people who handle the camera. There could have been some other photographer instead of Albert Korda present during the memorial service. But for Korda, his photographic stimuli steered him to capture the image of Che on that very moment, from his preferred angle and frame and of course with the right metering.  Imphal Free Press on its February 22 issue carried out an interview of photo journalist, Phanjoubam Santosh. His thirty years of experience as a photo journalist in Manipur is no mean feat. Having shot on a myriad of subjects, this photo journalist has experienced the technological conversion from the traditional film-based photochemical methods to the electronic digital photography. When asked about the qualities that a good photographer should have, besides the basic skill of operating the camera, ability to see and feel the poetry within the four frames is what he had emphasised. Not just a simple advice, we would say. With the coming of the DSLR there has been a visible increase of people who are into photography. In fact, almost everyone has become a photographer. Mobile phones now come with inbuilt camera. There is a joke that nowadays parents see their children only through the ‘High Definition’ frames, even when they are sited in the middle of the performance. Parents are busy capturing the performance of their children on the camera instead of enjoying it with the naked eye. Apart from the joke, cameras have become an eyesore in social function like marriage. It seems that the essence of the function has been pushed aside by mob of frenzied paparazzi. At an evening of Western Classical concert in Imphal, a prior announcement informed the audience not to shoot camera with their flashes on, to avoid any disturbance to the artists. Volunteers had to physically control the shutterbugs as the announcement fell on deaf ears. We agree that photography comes with shades of glamour and style. High economic costs are always involved with it whether one pursues it as a hobby or profession. Price of a single lens costs more than a month’s salary of a Manipur Government grade one employee. This is also true that not all professional photographers are good photographers and vice versa. We, however, do not mean to slay the passion of teeming photographers that we have seen in recent years. We leave it best to their choice of time and space. But feel the poetry. ‘Forget the camera, forget the lens, forget all of that. With any four-dollar camera, you can capture the best picture.’ That was Alberto Korda’s advice.

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