Maneesha discovers the world through photography.
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My love affair with photography came about quite by accident. I was intending to use ‘sand play’ as a therapeutic tool and needed to be able to keep a record of my clients’ creations, so I bought the least-intimidating camera I could find and waited for clients to come beating at my door begging to work with me. Then one day, on a whim, I started taking photos of the trees near my apartment.
I’ve always regarded my multi-talented sister as the artist in the family. Yet as I became enraptured with what my camera produced, the local photo-shop owner and various friends began to tell me I ‘had an eye’ for photography. One friend even suggested certain online programs and a state-of-the-art camera, but I didn’t want to clutter my mind with technical tricks, turning my spontaneous play into self-conscious, studied effort.
In Australia, India, all over Europe and more recently in the USA, taking pictures has slowed me down to notice what is around me; and not only that, to see it in a new way: the pleasing, the quaint, the humorous, and the utterly awesome. My little Cool-Pix tunes me in to the more subtle forms of loveliness: the play of light and shade, such as when the sun shines through leaves; contrasting textures, like leaves or flowers on wood or stone; shapes, the dome of a cathedral or arches of a bridge; and patterns. Colours too, of course: the hues of autumn, the riot of reds and russets, yellow, orange and brown.
In what I might once have dismissed as winter’s bleakness, I now find a zen-like paring down; life naked, revealing forms that summer has concealed. In spring life emerges, seemingly shy and tender, yet thrusting its way through heavy clods of earth and through wood with a shout of jubilation, of ‘Look, we have come through!’
Just as much part of the joy my camera gives me is the element of the unexpected: the robin that, instead of nervously taking flight, stays perched on the stone cross in the churchyard, while I fiddle about getting my camera out. The seller of onions, looking quintessentially French in – of all places! – Bristol, on a Saturday morning; the wild moorland ponies grazing, perfectly framed by two huge trees; the priest, ‘cellulare’ to his ear, outside the Genova church (on the hotline to God?).
Stumbling upon sculptured columns or church domes, or the architecture of a Westminster Abbey, I am stunned into silence. Perhaps we are not heading for self-destruction after all. We’re not all axe murders, drug lords or warmongers. There have been and are among us some good and creative and beautiful people: the celebrants of life.
It’s a delight when others appreciate the photos I take; but taking pictures is really my own personal love affair with life. In the past, the increasing intimacy of a relationship with a man created a hunger for more and a desire to pin him down, to own him. But the deeper this love connection with nature becomes, the more I am happy to just observe the ever-changing beauty, with no desire to control or claim as mine. Each photograph is an exclamation point in the ever-more-amazing parade: See here! And here! And….