Digital cameras are making a photographer of everyone
Photography has always been a popular hobby, but digital cameras have given it a new lease of life. Students, executives, housewives — everyone these days has ambitions of being a photographer, and are ready to spend tens of thousands on cameras and equipment. Mostly, it is to satisfy a latent creativity, but some don’t mind selling once in a while to earn an extra buck.
Rakesh Sahai, veteran photographer, says, “I conduct hobby classes for amateurs and I am surprised to see the response. Last year, we organised a trip for kids below 15, and you should see the pictures they clicked at the Ranthambore National Reserve! We have college students who have bought DSLRs (digital single lens reflex cameras) with monthly EMIs. One of our students is a senior editor with a newspaper; he squeezes time out of office and home to somehow make it to class.”
Gaurav Bhatnagar, a Jaipur-based architect, is one such passionate amateur photographer. An avid bird watcher, he says, “My passion for photography has come from my love for bird-watching and now I feel they are inter-related.” Bhatnagar has exhibited his work and also posted them on Flickr.
Asked the reason for the sudden wave of photography, Sahai says, “Mobile phone cameras have suddenly made photography seem easy. We live in a world driven by visuals, and photography gives quick results. Your work can be shared through e-mail, on Facebook, blog, Flickr, etc. And there is a style-quotient attached — holding a DSLR with a long lens sticking out looks appealing.”
No wonder there has been a surge in photography classes — both full time and hobby courses — across metros. Photography clubs too have come up like a rash, working as platforms where amateur photographers can network and review their work. In the Capital, the Photography Club of Delhi, started by a group of friends in 2008, also organises workshops for amateur photographers and members. It has a website where photographers can post images, ask for comments and share the link with others; membership is free.
A lot of colleges and universities have their own photography clubs. Says Mahika Shishodia, a student of Hindu College, “I took to photography last year during the summer break. I have a DSLR, which I carry whenever I step out. I invested in a D60 (Rs 33,000) initially and later sold it to buy a D90 for about Rs 50,000. As I love clicking portraits, my mother gifted me a 50 mm lens, which has completed my photography kit.” Shishodia, however, doesn’t want to become a professional photographer. “Professionals,” she feels, “do not have creative freedom, essential to being a good photographer.” Sandipan Choudhury, a student of Ramjas College who is learning photography, says, “We have a page on Facebook called Delhi University Photography Club. We have seen a good increase in membership in the past few months.”
Amateur photography is big in Kolkata too, says Arindam Lahiri, a software engineer with Wipro. “I had never thought of pursuing photography as a hobby till about six months ago, when a picture I clicked from my point-and-shoot camera got a lot of “like” comments on Facebook. It was a shot of a sunset at the Hoogli River. After that, I started clicking regularly on weekends and also enrolled for a course.” Lahiri, who invested in a Nikon D 5000 recently, intends to buy a telescopic lens (costing close to a lakh) for landscapes.
“If digital photography is picking up today it is because the big camera companies are bringing their latest range of equipment to India,” says Bhatnagar. “Earlier, getting a good SLR was very difficult — we had to get it shipped from abroad.”
The DSLR camera market in India, which sold 20,000 units last year, is expected to double this to 40,000 units by the end of 2011, the sales coming partly from young amateurs upgrading to DSLRs. DSLRs are expensive, with prices starting at Rs 40,000. And then there’s additional equipment such as lenses and accessories that any good photographer must keep buying.
No wonder, Nikon and Canon, the two prominent names in digital cameras, particularly DSLRs, have seen robust growth. Nikon, which has 55 per cent share of the DSLR market in India, plans to diversify its range. It has also opened a Nikon school in Gurgaon to promote digital SLR photography.
Canon India, which controls about 32 per cent of the DSLR market, too plans to increase sales by 200 per cent. The notion that India is a cost-sensitive market is not quite right, Canon India president and chief executive Kensaku Konishi said recently. People are ready to pay for value and are upgrading to DSLRs, he feels.
He is absolutely right.