Photography as an Art in India

‘Desires Wrought upon the Surface of an Image’: Photography as an Art in India | ShahidulNews

B. Syed, Dabhol
Young Girl tinting a photograph
hand tintedgelatin silver print
mid 20th century, 223 x 280 mm.
Courtesy The Alkazi Collection of Photography.

The concept of ‘Art Photography’ presents a conceptual and ideological dilemma that has persisted from photography’s invention in 1839 and the pioneering work of Fox Henry Talbot, The Pencil of Nature (1844-6). The early period was one of lively experiments, but in its growing stages there was a significant lacuna between amateurs and professionals. The ‘Art’ of photography may refer to pictorial conventions adapted by photographers, or indeed how photography as an art form is now on par with the lure (both aesthetic and economic) of painting.

Arrival in India

Photography first arrived in India in the ports around 1840, followed by the establishment of societies in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It became a means of bridging the fields of patronage and industry, and of displaying the vast cultural tapestry of the people. With rising commerce and trade, the need for sophisticated studios steadily increased. People from all walks of life saw themselves magically imprinted on paper, and with time, photography was no longer treated as an isolated form of documentation or surveillance ………………….