Have you ever wondered how would you look like on vintage photograph taken in 1860?

Found on the busy colorful streets of walled city of Jaipur, are two men who are proudly preserving three eras of photography with their 1860 Carl Zeiss camera - Surendra Kumar and his brother and Tikam Chand. It is a game in the dark room hidden in one small camera box. The picture of Surendra appears to be upside down on the back side of the lens.  

A box camera model that was gifted to his grandfather Pahari Lal by the then Maharaja of Jaipur, was passed to him as a legacy in 1977, and he hasn’t looked back since then. From passport size pictures to candid clicks, from school kids to Government officers, all used to flock to him to get the instant black and white pictures clicked by him.

“The difference between photographers now and photographers then is that today’s crowd doesn’t understand the true significance or meaning of the art of photography, they take it casually. They think having a digital camera means being a professional.” Surendar

The camera is a piece of history. Manufactured in Germany in the 1860s, the leather clad box houses its own ‘darkroom’ in the back and a beautiful Carl Zeiss lens in the front. The dark room is actually storing room for memories, bank, tiny shrine and temple dedicated to goddess Lakshmi, who suppose to bless camera owners.

"I want this camera to live for more years and don’t want it to die in darkness.” Tikam Chand

Though the era of box cameras ended when coloured printing & filming came into existence but his box camera still stands strong and unique among these coloured cameras. The box camera doesn’t require any roll and has fixer and developer that print pictures immediately with the beautiful backdrop of the Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal)!

From his makeshift roadside studio, Kumar has been making portraits of tourists and city regulars for 40 years now. Rising at the crack of dawn, he reaches Johari Bazaar at 7 each morning and stays there till 6 in the evening. He candidly admits that he mostly caters to foreign tourists because nobody else seems to appreciate his antique camera as much.

And the future? When Kumar's brother Chand was asked about it by Rajat from Foodravel, he replied: “I got this heritage from my father and my father got it from my grandfather. But my children aren’t interested to carry it forward as there is no money. However, I have plans to teach them. And I will ask them to teach the coming generation too. We are planning to put it open for the public. I want this camera to live for more years and don’t want it to die in darkness.”






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