Sometimes, life is just a walk in the park…
Actually, these days, it’s more of a photography session!Updated: Apr 07, 2018 22:09 IST
Spring is always the best time to take a walk in Delhi’s Lodi Gardens. The flowers are blooming, the trees are alive, the grass is greener than ever, and the birdsong is enough to make your heart soar. This spring though, as I walked briskly down its little winding roads, I realised that while I hadn’t been looking Lodi Gardens had turned in to a photography studio rather than the neighbourhood park I remembered it as.
To be fair, over the years, you could always find the odd couple posing for their engagement/wedding photos, looking self-conscious and embarrassed in all their finery amidst the joggers in their track pants and T-shirts. But this was something entirely different.
As I entered through the Ashoka Gate, the first thing I saw was a heavily-pregnant lady, wearing a maroon empire-line maxi-dress, posing in silhouette against one of the many monuments Lodi Gardens is littered with. Kneeling in front of her was a man who I presumed was her husband, his hand placed proprietorially on her baby bump. Immortalising this moment for posterity (and for the progeny) was a burly bearded photographer wielding a DSLR camera like it was an offensive weapon, while his two assistants held up sheets of white thermocol at different angles to provide the best light.
I smiled indulgently at this tableau and moved on. I couldn’t have gone more than thirty paces when yet another photography session caught my eye. This time it was a couple who looked to be in their early 30s, accompanied by a whole team of hair and make-up people, who had opened their little suitcase of products and were conducting urgent repairs on the principals. Once the touch-up was done, one of the photographer’s assistants handed the couple a golden balloon in the shape of the number one. They hoisted it up between them, smiled widely and said ‘cheese’ to celebrate what I can only hope was their first anniversary.
Fifty yards on, another love story was being memorialised on camera. This time, it was clearly a proposal, or rather, the re-enacting of one. The boy was in the now-mandatory position of being down on one knee, holding up a ring box in his right hand, while he held out his left arm in what can only be described as a Shah Rukh Khan pose. The girl was doing her best Sushmita-Sen-wins-Miss-Universe impression, holding her hands to her mouth in mock-shock and faux-awe. They held this pose for absolute ages as the photographer captured it from every conceivable angle. Given how much effort they had put into the ‘proposal’ I was sure that their marriage would be the stuff of legend.
And thus it went, photo session after photo session, as I tried my best to meet my target of 10,000 steps. And not just that day either; this was pretty much par for the course every single time I went for a walk in Lodi Gardens.
As I trudged along, I tried to figure out what accounted for this sudden urge for ordinary, middle-class folk to conduct ‘glam shoots’ to commemorate some moment or the other. And then, it suddenly hit me: Instagram!
Everyone knows that when it comes to Instagram, you have to look your very best, and the photo has to be of professional quality
That’s where all these photos were headed; to be posted on ‘Insta’ with a plethora of hashtags for their family and friends to ‘like’ and comment on. And everyone knows that when it comes to Instagram, you have to look your very best, the photo has to be professional quality, so why not hire experts to do the job? Sure, it can’t be cheap. But hey, a good photo will live on forever on Insta; and who knows, if it is striking enough, it may even go viral!
I guess this was bound to happen one day. A movement that began with everybody taking pictures of their breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the odd fancy meal at an expensive restaurant was bound to end up with heavily-curated pictures of seminal moments of our lives, all subtly highlighted and posted on Insta with a suitable filter (X-pro or Lo-fi, anyone?). After all, if you post innumerable photos showing off the beautiful locations of your summer/winter vacations, then how can you ignore important milestones like proposals, anniversaries, pregnancies, etc.? And surely, such landmark moments rate more than the usual ‘selfies’ (even if they are taken with a selfie-stick). No, you need to call in the professionals at such times.
So, I guess that’s why my favourite neighbourhood spot for long, lonely walks has been transformed into Photography Central. There are more glittery stilettos in evidence than sturdy running shoes. There are more shiny dresses around than there are jogging pants. And there are more hair and make-up people around than actual exercise enthusiasts.
And you know what? I love it!
I love watching those young lovers making gooey eyes at one another. I love seeing the look of pride in a young man’s eyes as he cradles his wife’s pregnant belly. And, of course, I love the corny proposal scenarios that play out every day in front of me.
I don’t know how much these photography sessions cost (and I, for one, would never pay good money for them). But I do know that for sheer entertainment value alone, they are priceless.
From HT Brunch, April 8, 2018
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First Published: Apr 07, 2018 22:09 IST