Once a favourite amongst tourists from across the globe, Tikam Chand Pahari, along with his 150-year-old vintage camera, is now struggling to find customers. Like most people, this third-generation photographer was affected by the pandemic as street photography, the main source of his livelihood took a blow amid COVID-induced travel restrictions and lockdowns. Read on to traverse the journey of the oldest standing street photographer in the Pink City.
The struggles of Jaipur's oldest street studio!
The exquisite camera, gifted by the Maharaja of Jaipur to Pahari Lal, Tikam's grandfather has been used by three generations of his family. Passed on by his grandfather- the royal photographer of his time, to his father and then to Tikam Chand in 1977, this 1860's Carl Zeiss camera is said to be manufactured in Germany.
Positioned at one of the main streets of the Jaipur near Hawa Mahal, Tikam Chand mainly targets a foreign clientele and his business has been hit hard with the ongoing pandemic. Despite the ease of restrictions, things are not getting easier for him. With a low turnout of international tourists, Pahari's trouble don't seem to end anytime soon.
From movie cameos to days of financial trouble
Youth Ki Awaaz
Though the owner of this vintage camera has claimed his fame through appearances in movies like Bhool Bhulaiyaa, managing expenses has become an everyday challenge for Tikam Chand. Apart from foreigners, even locals used to get passport size pictures clicked for official uses earlier. However, Tikam's customer base has witnessed a major shrink, with the emergence of instant and digitally-printed coloured pictures,
Informing about the expensive spare parts of this camera and the special films that are procured from France, he said, "I want to request tourists to show appreciation for this piece of history and be a part of it by getting themselves photographed by me.".
History buffs & Photography fanatics to the rescue!
While local tourists are not usually interested in getting clicked by this vintage camera, Tikam Chand relies on history buffs and photography fanatics now. While expressing his ordeal the photographer said, "I'm facing difficulty in managing my expenses as we don't have customers. Indian customers are less attracted towards it while foreigners are not coming,".
This box camera takes just five minutes to capture, get a negative and develop the photograph, that too right in front of you! If you wish to contribute towards this sepia-tinted history then do not forget to get these postcard-worthy polaroids as lasting souvenirs, on your next visit to Jaipur.
Location: Near Pandit Kulfi, Hawa Mahal road, Jaipur.