While the photography landscape changing from analogue to digital, camera stores are having to adjust to a new reality. While many stores in Delhi display old manual analogue cameras, most of their work deals with repairing and selling digital ones. Photography no longer remains the art it once was, Rajkumar Kapoor, owner of Madanjee & Co, at Chandni Chowk’s camera market told The Indian Express. Madanjee & Co is one of the oldest camera stores at Chandni Chowk — founded in Peshawar by Kapoor’s grandfather before moving to Delhi after Partition and re-establishing the store in 1955.
Like Madanjee & Co, many stores in the camera market have been in existence since the 1950s with the ownership being passed down generations. What started with six stores grew to over 200 now.
Now, all the surviving shops have had to adapt to the technological shift in photography — from black-and-white film to colour to digital. A revival in film photography recently has sparked a wave of young customers coming to the market to repair old cameras that belonged to their parents or grandparents.
Ashoka Studio has seen an increase in customers who want to repair old cameras and develop film rolls. KIV Engineering’s Kapil Inderjeet Vohra told The Indian Express that they got around two cameras to repair a day — substantially higher than the two cameras a month earlier.
KIV Engineering, one of the oldest stores in the area, has always been a repair store. It recently started offering cleaning services. Some stores still do shoots, though that has almost stopped as most residents have moved out of Chandni Chowk and don’t require in-studio shoots any longer.
Digital photography remains dominant and the market largely caters to that. However, some still reminisce about the golden days of photography. Kapoor said digital cameras allowed multiple shots. With film, photography was an art — it was time consuming, from the set-up till the film got processed and it required skill. Today, anyone can become a photographer.
Kapoor said the new generation was ‘clicking’ without ‘understanding’. He believes the renewed interest in film photography didn’t mean it was back for good. He added there was a time they thought film would come back, but they were proven to be wrong.
Even though Kapoor’s store still sells black-and-white film rolls and modern analogue cameras, their sale is negligible. The store once had a photo developing lab, which has been shut down. Kapoor now reserves only a few shelves to analogue photography film and equipment.