Because old will always be gold

Vintage charm

Just like Ghantewala confectioners is history now, a lot many places, markets, gullies and shops in Chandni Chowk have disappeared or have lost their significance with time.

As photography lovers and photographers celebrated World Photography Day (WPD) on August 19, Metrolife visited the ‘camera market’ located in the Kucha Chaudhry gully of Chandni Chowk,to find out what the place looks like now, after all the digitisation that has taken place.

The place is considered a one-stop-hub and is known to all amateur photographers and beginners.Sitting in a shop on the right hand side corner at the market’s entrance is 65-year-old Charanjit Singh, who runs a shop of memory devices. He started sitting in the shop, which earlier used to sell camera equipments, during the 1980s.

He tells Metrolife, “Hum kapda dalke negative ko positive banate the... tasveer ek bulb se kheechi jati thi, jo ek baar mei hi destroy ho jaata tha. During those times, this market was known to be Asia’s biggest for photography and camera equipments. Around 150 shops were opened together. We had customers coming from all parts of the country, and even the world. Photography was much more complex back then.”

Speaking to him, we actually remember the times when the entire family was made to sit in a particular order to click a black and white picture.However, Singh feels that the market now is fading and is nothing like what it used to be years ago. “The market seems to be ending slowly now. Everything has changed. A considerable amount of customers have driven towards online shopping because of which the business has gone down. That’s why we shifted to selling memory device products like pen drives, hard discs etc, because these devices are needed in almost all gadgets,” adds Singh.

Photographer Hemant J Khendilwal, who has been into fashion and portrait photography for as many as 18 years; and has a personal fondness towards old Delhi, shares his experiences.

“This time on WPD, I went back to my first days of photography. Leaving aside all the portraits and photography that I have done for commercial purposes, I got back to my roots when I used to click for myself. They excite me even today. Thus, the old can never lose its charm.”

“Similarly”, Khendilwal continues, “There was a certain kind of charm in those old cameras and equipments. I feel sad that even companies like Kodak and Fuji have stopped manufacturing those films and chemicals that were used in earlier times.”

Sharing his memories of the market, he adds, “I used to visit the market a lot when I was starting as a photographer. That lane, flooded with tons of camera lights, tripods, etc, used to fascinate me. I used to love going there and just looking at them from outside. I recently visited the market two months back to buy something from ‘Madan Jee and Company’, a shop which I have been able to rely on, in all these years.”

 “On seeing the changing market scenario, I can just say that even photography has evolved and now photographers don’t need a lot of things. A camera, a laptop and some lights are all that you need.”

However, Rajat Bhandari, a 23-year-old independent photographer says, “Nowhere in Delhi, except the camera market, can you find and get repaired the minutest equipment. I don’t think the market is fading out as the retailers there are adjusting with technology and have their own Facebook pages and tie-ups with various e-commerce websites like OLX, Flipkart, etc. to sustain their businesses.”

“I also remember this one time when I accidentally broke the flash light of my camera. I visited almost all shops in the city to get it repaired, but it was only in this small street in Chandni Chowk that I found a solution. Moreover, for those people who buy DSLRs without a bill, or second-hand cameras without a warranty, camera market is a boon for them!” he ends laughing.

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