Growing up, we had three VIPs in my area, the village chairman, the headmaster and the photographer. But of the three, if you asked me, the photographer was the most important. After all who could capture and freeze special moments and preserve memories like him?
Our camera man as I remember him was a stout and short individual with a chiseled jaw, shoulders of a wrestler, eyes of a viper, hands of a brick layer. He also dressed like a banker. He was naturally soft spoken but talked with an audible lisp. He had a bicycle and a cross-chest bag in which he kept his precious Kodak camera. He was the only photographer in the whole province and everyone knew his name. He used to sit in the front seats with the crème de la crème of society on big events like speech days or weddings.
The way he took photos made one think it was more complicated than brain surgery. He would kneel on one knee, squeeze his left eye shut, press hard on the camera then change position, making a 170 degree angle before squeezing the button. I remember the only time my old man nearly slapped me was when one day at dinner time, I decided to share my future plans and dream career with the whole family. “I’ve made up my mind,” I shouted. I caught everyone’s attention as it was considered bad manners for kids to talk while eating.
With the look of someone about to announce their best invention, I said, “I’m going to be a camera man when I grow up.” What came after that declaration made me hate the profession immediately.
Most of our best photos were taken on big days like Christmas and Easter. Putting on our best clothes and shoes, you had to put your hands straight by your side like a Swiss guard least you spoil the photo. In fact some of us would hold our breath till we see the flash! Now about that camera flash, it was very important as it was the only way we would know for sure that the photo was taken. It was almost impossible for our parents to part with their hard earned cash paying the camera man when they didn’t see the flash. The photo session was very important, though to us they were just photos, our parents knew they were memories.Today when you look at those old black and white photos and see the expressions on our faces, you will see just how serious we took it. As for the kids, you can tell by the protruding tummies and satisfied grins on their faces that most of the photos were taken shortly after a feast! Thank you all 90’s camera men, you were really very important people. All the memories would be lost wit