All of Facebook’s a stage. And Twitter too. Whatsapp as well! Courtesy: Photoholics.

Pick out that outfit from your shopping bag, put on some blush or gel, walk to the nearest café (or to the farthest one) and simply click away, along with your over-enthusiastic, photo-obsessed friends (as you strike the famous two-fingers-flung-in-different-directions-pose or the famous I’m-shocked-pose or the popular I’m-gorgeous-watch-me pose).

Just when your professor leaves class, do a quick hair-tweaking-session, bunch up and look into the camera of the best phone-camera available.

Or even better, wake up in the morning, get ready for the day, and, no, don’t leave home — just capture yourself in different corners of your home (looking in different directions, obviously pretending like you don’t know that the camera is capturing you).

Then comes the best part. Log on to www.facebook.com and swap your existing profile picture. Log out. Log in. View the number of likes. Log out. Log in. View the number of likes. Log out. Log in. View the number of likes… Sounds familiar? Sure, it does!

Trending

It’s fun, it’s obsessive, it’s addictive, it’s habitual, it’s fun and it’s satiating. Sunder Ramu, actor and photographer, says, “Initially, I was very sceptical about social forums. I don’t really want to know whose doing what, at which point of the day. However, over a period of time, I realised that these forums, especially Facebook, give young talent an opportunity and platform to showcase their creativity. Besides that, earlier, photography was considered a subject of the rich and famous, and highly technical for a layman to come to terms with. Social networking sites have altered that and that’s great.”

Swetha Joyson, a student of Visual Communication, bought a DSLR as a part of her curriculum. Expensive and massive, she was reluctant to put it down, just in case it got damaged accidentally. Naturally, her friends would coax her to shoot them, whenever and wherever possible. She began to share these images with them on Facebook.

Eventually, she began her own page (Facebook.com/SwethaJoysonPhotography) that people took note of, and that has grown, slowly and steadily in the last one year into a community of over 800 devoted followers. Swetha is obviously on top of the world. She is now a freelance photographer who shoots for weddings and events and is popular for her candid and quirky style.

Is social media the future of photography? “I’ve heard that people in other cities are getting themselves shot professionally to update their profiles on various social networking forums. In Chennai, however, that hasn’t happened yet,” says Swetha “Most people in this city buy a DSLR, and shoot themselves. But, at the pace at which people are switching their pictures and are getting more and more obsessed with looking great, we are not very far away from getting there.”

Tech-driven

Today, everyone’s a photographer. Technology is integral to the spurt in creativity levels displayed by someone who hasn’t been exposed to the tricks and trade of photography.

Mobile applications and photo-editing software can magically turn an ordinary picture into extraordinary and add that professional touch.

Mobile phones cameras are fulfilling and have almost eliminated the need for cameras. “When you can shoot over 2000 images of great quality on your phone every day, why do you need a camera?” says Sunder, “It’s hard to decide if these gifts of technology are a boon or a bane. At a wedding for instance, I don’t want to miss any of the special moments. I want to capture the expressions of my friends, the décor of the hall, the food, my cousins having a great time, the flames from the fire, the wedding ceremony and so on. One photographer is not going to be able to get all of them. However, if 500 people are going to be capturing different moments in the hall, I will be able to get something of them all. Isn’t that amazing? On the other hand, in the process of taking photographs, we almost forget to live the moment. Often, what people capture is what they want it to look like, rather than what it really is.”

Self-obsessed

Eighteen-year-old Mira Thevan was obsessed with changing her display picture on Facebook constantly, and displaying pictures from wherever she went. It was fun and, eventually, became a habit.

Mira says, “It was great fun, at one point. We would take pictures and post it and people would like and say some lovely things. It made my friends and I feel great. However, over the course of time, I realised that we were so caught up in taking pictures that we were forgetting to have fun. That’s all we would do. Shoot ourselves and post it on Facebook. It has become an addiction if I can say so, but we are slowly weaning ourselves out of it.”

Photo sharing, candid photography, likes, comments — some of the jargons from this part of the world have become instrumental in building self-esteems and superiority complexes. Someone has more likes than another and he/she is automatically the winner of Mr/Ms Popular. Zainab Lal, 17-year-old, says, “When people like my photograph and say nice things about it, it makes me feel very special. And I’m sure that it’s not just me, most people feel that way. It makes us feel proud about who we are.”

Sunder says, “Honestly, a display picture is like a cover of a book or a poster of a film. It is essentially what draws me to the person. Several times, people have funny names for their profiles and I might not recognise them but through their profile picture, I know who they are. That is the purpose, according to me.” Wasn’t that the original purpose?

Photo sharing on social forums, give me the opportunity to be a part of the globe family. In fact, sharing of this sort has open doors to discussions and debates and also serves as great reference points. Sometimes, while shooting, I feel that the elements we use are repetitive; magazines and miscellaneous reference material are also creatively stagnant in what they showcase. Of late, I’ve begun to turn to these online social spaces that display an assortment of instinctive, candid, free and unrestricted photographs. They are great reference points, I must say. There is a huge market for photographers in these spaces that are bustling with creativity that’s natural and fresh. - Sunder Ramu

Don’t do the usual; experiment! Play with the location, use props creatively and use light well. - Swetha Joyson