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In today’s blog, we’ll be focusing on the old Kolkata or Calcutta and how it has become a hub of commercial and creative photography in India. Photography as a practice began in Kolkata in 1840, just a few months after the technology was patented in England and France in 1839. Mostly the elite communities of the city were involved into it as in those days it was a very costly affair. Both sahibs and Indians took to photography and practiced it as a trade and hobby. Soon commercial studios and camera clubs were founded which exchanged photographers, ideas and styles and interacted with their European counterparts.

Establishments of Studios:

  1. Bourne & Shepherd was an Indian photographic studio based in Kolkata and one of the oldest established photographic businesses in the world. Started in 1863 at its crest, it was one of the most successful enterprises in 19th-and early 20th-century India, with agencies all over India, and outlets in London and Paris, and also ran a mail order service. A distressing fire in 1991, shattered much of the studio’s photographic archive and resulted in a severe financial loss to the company. The long-term impact of the fire, legal difficulties with the Indian government, which owned the studio building, and the increasing supremacy of digital technology, finally enforced the studio’s shutting down in June 2016. At its closure, the studio had operated at a stretch for 176 years.
  2. Johnston and Hoffman was a commercial photographic studio active in India between 1870 and 1918. P. A. Johnston and Theodore Hoffman founded photographic studios first in Calcutta and then in Darjeeling in 1890. They were used comprehensively by the British government in India.

In recent times, in August 2018, the Victoria Memorial Hall has made the endeavor of tumbling into its vast and tremendous worth to hold a intriguing exhibition of 96 photographs by Bourne & Shepherd (27 prints) and Johnston & Hoffmann, generally of Calcutta (long before it was renamed Kolkata) as it looked in the elevated midday of the British Raj in late 19th and early 20th century.

The Present is moving forward with the past:

Kolkata is a city of delight and to observe the marvels it encircles within one really needs to quit Google & plod down on the streets. Beyond the gloomy, grunge, sultry putrefaction and the honking chaos, when you really slow down and start “living” the city, break to undergo its pulse you comprehend there is more to it.

If portraits or capturing people in their impulsiveness at swarming market-places is what gets you going then you need to go for this one.  One of the biggest wholesale vegetable & flower markets of Kolkata, it offers your places of interest, flavor, aroma, and experiences you would have never ever imagined or experienced before. The opportunities and challenges this marketplace offers to the best photographers are unmatched. Located under the Howrah Bridge and on the boundaries of Mallick ghat, known as one of the largest flower markets in Asia, reaching here is a tough task for those who aren’t early risers. The varied hues and shapes of flowers are made for a perfect college. Then there are the ghats, Howrah Bridge and Hooghly River that complete the click-worthy experience for both amateurs and professionals.

Kolkata is also known as City of Joy for the friendly and loving behavior of residents. On the lines of photography, one can never get tired of this city of joy for it keeps showing you surprises from all the corners. The people of Kolkata are known for their generosity and implausible love.