In late 90s there was no camera phone or an affordable digital camera. One had to buy a roll of film, load it in the camera and once the reel is exposed, have it developed outside and printed as photos. If you had to see your photographic exploits in the shortest possible time, you had shops like ‘One hour motophoto’ that developed the reel for a premium. Being a purist or a wannabe purist in almost every pursuit, I bought a manual camera and couple of lenses from a catalogue. (My boss at that time, suggested to go for a Vivitar, a cheaper version of the in-vogue cameras, but still had great lenses. He also threw in his professional chops into the equation saying that he uses Vivitar lenses all the time, for his modelling studio at home.)
Quite a few weekends were spent in heightened anticipation with what would turn out of my ‘manual’ expeditions. Depending on the level of anticipation, the film rolls either made it to the value-for-money drop box in local grocery/pharmacy chain or to the pricey ‘one hour motophoto’.
I subjected several subjects of mine to severe ridicule (by the end product) and to sheer exasperation (with the process). Many were aghast with my guts, when they heard my caveat (‘Hey, trying out a new setting…not sure how the picture would turn out). In no time, nature and ‘self’ became the obvious choices. The former being mute, cannot sigh in displeasure, and the later has no one else to blame.
In a nutshell, a good photograph had to survive the following hops. 1) My atrocious and experimental camera settings 2) The usual shakes and tilts of an amateur photographer 3) The after effects from the reel developer, where the colors sometimes were auto adjusted or ‘treated’ out of pity for the Picasso in me. Here is one that survived these ordeals and came out okay… one of the very few photographs that can boast of a 100pc success rate, i.e with no outtakes (or photos in the dustbin).
Incidentally, this was my first selfie, in 1997/98.