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A Series of Moments

by Raksha Khetan

Graduation is in less than a month. One month.

One month till I empty my beautiful apartment full of memories; pack up her record player, divide the photos on the fridge, sell the furniture. Our furniture, our dog bed, our bar. One month till 737 is no longer ours.

One month till our daily dinners come to an end. Someone cooking, someone smoking, someone working, someone sleeping. Extra salted pasta one day, delicious three-course meal another.

One month till my closet is mine, and yours is yours. Can’t steal hoodies or sweaters, caps or boots. Can’t be mad at me for never returning your shoes.

One month till daily hugs are through video calls, frothy coffee breaks won’t be easy to host.

One month till noise complaints aren't the reason we have to empty this place. A few more late nights till 4 am, screaming to Jashn-e at the top of our lungs.

One month till we all stop complaining. But maybe we will miss the little vermin in our kitchen, both the mice and our sneaky friends.

One month till I fly to a different city, she moves to a different state, he moves to a different coast.

One month till I can no longer show up at your door uninvited and feel right at home.

No. That's not true. I will still show up, even if it's a few hours away.

To all the memories, all the noise complaints, all the weekend trips. To the 4 years of living together and fighting each other. To the one month left till we graduate.

As I approach this month full of assignments, long drives on weekends, and girls night-outs, everything I am about to leave behind hits me. I have been doing everything I can to capture small moments and memories. What I want to preserve is intimately described in my favorite song, Photograph, by Ed Sheeran. His lyrics resonate with the visual echo of my memory of the people I love,

“We keep this love in a photograph

We made these memories for ourselves

Where our eyes are never closing

Hearts are never broken

And time's forever frozen, still”

With graduation around the corner, that is all I can ask for.

Growing up, I let myself indulge in the arts in every way possible. I took up dance, piano, crafts, painting, even the drums. But painting came most naturally to me. At the age of five, it became a part of my identity. As I kept trying to find inspiration for my paintings and artistic journey, I kept being drawn to photographs. Some paintings were replicas of photographs I had taken or seen, some inspired by the composition and colors of photographs of nature. Instinctively, I found myself exploring the world of photography: from taking photographs on family trips through the lens of my smashed iPhone to sneaking off with my dad’s camera for a sunset photoshoot from our balcony. Over time, I became the photographer of the group; clicking the best gram-worthy photos for my friends, cute candids for my cousin and her baby, and subtle snapshots of my life for my family back home. With so many memories to hold on to as I graduate, I wanted to actively capture my present moments.

Because of this desire, I took a photography course. From the very first lecture, I was drawn in. The feeling of holding a camera felt very natural. Understanding the nitty-grittys of getting the perfect image and finally capturing that moment gave me a sense of satisfaction and became a ritual: one finger on the shutter button, balance the lens, perfect your composition, and click.

Throughout the semester I had the chance to explore different aspects of photography: indoor and outdoor, depth, lines, reflections, night, and my absolute favorite, the photo series. For each of my projects, I couldn’t help but capture intimate and memorable moments with my friends. Snow dates at the commons, sharing ice cream in a car, dawdling around downtown, long drunk weekends at Providence. As I grew more fond of capturing these moments, I wanted to use my new skills for a special project. I found the perfect opportunity through Charcoal: Ego Death, a photo series.

Charcoal has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, fulfilling experiences of my college experience. I have enjoyed, and loved, being a part of a family so loving and supportive. This semester we created something phenomenal: a new zine focusing on the loss of our own egos and cracking open our truths. I took on the opportunity to photograph a dance performance, choreographed by two members to reflect their perspective of Ego Death.

Romil Pandey and Anaya Barmecha are the two main characters of my photo story. As roommates, friends, and their personal videographer, I have been on the sidelines of their dance journey over the past four years. Out of Body, an elemental performance to a remix of Behne De, explores ego death in the metaphysical space of a near-death experience analyzing the conflict and relationship between the body (Anaya) and the soul (Romil). Their choreography, inspired by the elements of water and earth, embodies classical Indian postures as it tackles the lyrical complexities of the song. The performance incorporates movements to portray the literal separation, conflict, and reunion of the body and the soul.

Through this photo series, I try to express the intimate moments of creativity between the creative director, performers, and the makeup artist in preparation for the recording. Trying to creatively display the makeup process and looks, I photographed both performers getting ready while playing with the depth of field and framing through detailed and wide shots. Shot in a black box theater, lighting was predominantly the most challenging aspect in capturing the performance itself. However, I was able to find the perfect balance between the highlights and shadows to outline the movements of the performers. Furthermore, I played with my shutter speeds to not only stop motion for various points in the dance, but also to display the movement through a blurring effect. My absolute favorite image, one with low shutter speeds and a blurred motion of the soul escaping the body, entails the overarching concept of the dance. Throughout the project, I felt elevated.

Photography itself has been a refreshing journey for me, and I can’t wait to continue to capture more of my favorite moments, with my favorite people:

One finger on the shutter button, balance the lens, perfect your composition, and click.