Shruti Varad, Brandon Yi
Piece by Shruti Varad. Image titled “Tiger Cut Out” by Brandon Yi.
She brings the camera up again, flipping a curl of hair out of her eyes before she focuses on her friends. Click. They’re laughing at something now, and she smiles absently, flipping through the pictures. She’s taken so many of them today that she feels confident in her ability to tell between their fake smiles and real ones.
She takes a few more, when they aren’t aware of it, their laughter ringing free and unrestrained, their faces glowing with the happiness that only friendship can bring. When she’s satisfied, she turns off her camera and goes to join them; arms stretch out to include her in the circle.
Photoshoots have become a hobby of hers. She loves catching her subject’s smile at just the right moment, loves when she can capture the brooding stillness unawares. She loves the feeling of the camera in her hand, the weight of it, the solidity. The almost fearful gentleness with which she handles it. The rightness with which it settles between her hands. There’s something about the permanence of the pictures she takes that make her feel complete and accomplished and right . Whether it’s of her friends, or of a tree, it’s a snapshot of a moment that will now last forever. A fleeting memory she caught at the right instant. A subtle movement that could have forever been lost in time.
There are days when she’s been reading for hours together; days when everything is a flurry of activity and movement and noise and feelings that slip by so quickly, so constantly, that she grabs her camera off the shelf and rushes out of her room, out of her head, to take pictures of something or of someone, to catch a memory, to save a smile. It calms her nerves and gives her focus, a precious rock in the storm of her thoughts and worries and fears. Click. The shutter releases. She examines her handiwork and smiles to herself. Another laugh captured. Another memory saved.