Lalbagh Photographers embrace digital tool
Photographing for almost 25 years; same place, same people, often changing styles, but sticking to where it all started for them – Lalbagh.
This is the story of photographer Prakash who has made Lalbagh his commercial hub. For the last 26 years he has been in Lalbagh, photographing all those who want to be clicked. “The Glass House,” he says, “is often the place many want to stand in front of.” “Couples, however, have other favorite places like the Lake and Tokyo Garden,” he smiles. What started many years back is still his profession. Of course, with the changing time, it was important for Prakash to stay abreast with technology. Perhaps, that’s the reason why he was convinced to buy an HP printer which helps him get a color print-out of his photograph in just one minute. In fact, that is presently his rock-solid tagline: ‘one-minute-photographs’.
It’s the famous biannual Lalbagh Flower Show held at the garden now, and many may think that business could be at its best for Prakash and his fellow photographers. Prakash says, “Now, business is no more the same as it used to be. Except holidays, there are times when we don’t even get one client. Even on festivals and holidays, business isn’t very great.” So, what could be the reason? “People come here with their own cameras. Moreover, print outs are passé now. Most people prefer digital copies.” Fellow photographer Surya blames cellular companies to have introduced high quality mobile camera phones. “Everyone who comes in here has a camera phone, which works out well to take quick few shots, and that’s all they want. If it’s a couple, wanting both to be clicked, they ask us to take their photograph with the phone,” says Surya, making sure that the last few words could be heard clear and loud.
For many like Prakash and Surya, photography has become the only way to earn their livelihood. Having spent so many years doing nothing but photography, there is little they can think of when it comes to doing a job. Ramchandar, who has been in business for 20 years now, explains, “We have really not done anything else. All of us took to photography hoping that this could give us the bread and butter – and everything we needed to sustain. Guess, we were wrong”. “Now, we have spent so much of time doing this that we really cannot think of doing anything else.” Standing in front of the Glass House, which was cluttered with people who had come to see the Flower Show, he was still without a single client. “Earlier, we were allowed to get inside and take photographs, and our clients liked that. Now, we are not allowed to go in. So, it doesn’t make a any difference to us even if there are thousands of people who have come to see the show,” he complains.
Many like them started their business with analog photography. That was the time when they used to give their clients a hard copy of the photograph. Ramchandar recalls some of his olden days. “We used to get the address of the client and send them the photographs later. Sometimes, we used to go to their hotel rooms to deliver the photograph. It was a great time. Business was good and we used to take a lot of photographs every day”. “I have personally taken photographs of even big ministers who had come here. I have even shot ministers coming from China and Singapore,” smiles Ramchandar. Ask him on what’s the latest thing he has added to his kit, he replies, “An HP mini printer. This helps me take a print out of any shot in just one minute. This helps me to deliver the photograph on the spot.”
Regarded as one of the most richly diverse Botanical Garden's in South Asia, the 240 acre Lalbagh was made on the lines of Mughal Gardens. Haider Ali, the warrior-king of Mysore, decided to create this garden in 1740. Over the years, the place has become a commercial hub for many people who live banking on the amount they earn selling their wares in the place. Guides and Commercial photographers add up to form a small part of that. The number of commercial photographers has come down to quite an extent, but many, like Ramchandar, Prakash and Surya still live with the hope that, “today is going to be a good day in business.”