Friday Review

Camera connect

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, former cabinet minister Subodh Kant Sahay, celebrated Photographer S.Paul and Photographer and Camera collector Dilish Parekh at 175th World Photography Day inauguration at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Monica Tiwari.   | Photo Credit: Monica Tiwari

“Do you have studio cameras?” At his first ever outing in the Capital, camera collector and photo-journalist Dilish Parekh was often asked this question because those who are clued in expect his vast collection of 4425 cameras to have these vintage cameras that have two lenses about the same distance apart just like our eyes and take two pictures at the same time. Parekh told them he hasn’t been able to bring them because of their sheer size and weight but whatever was on display — at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts on the occasion of World Photography Day (August 19) — was enough to tug at camera enthusiast’s heart. A short exhibition of just two days but nonetheless fascinating and engaging affair showcasing 40 cameras. “Every piece that you see here is rare. As a practitioner of photography I am interested in the evolution of photography and history of camera and it does give you an insight into it,” said photographer Aditya Arya who has created an exhaustive photographic archives called Aditya Arya Archives. The rarest of them all was the Royal Mail Postage Stamp Camera in wood and leather dating back to 1907. The camera can click 15 stamp-size photographs at a time.

Dilish Parekh is a jeweller by profession and a camera collector by hobby. His father bequeathed him a collection of antique cameras and Dilish went on to add to it. “He got it from some Parsi customers, Chor Bazaar and flea markets. He would look for an ad by someone interested in selling an old camera,” said Jay Parekh, Dilish’s son.

Another incredible piece is the 1934-made Leica 250 of which only seven pieces are left in the world. “In this exhibition none except six-20 ‘Brownie’ camera are mass produced cameras. Being available at one dollar, Brownie camera revolutionized photography. The rest of them were all released in limited numbers,” added Jay. Interestingly Dilish despite having a keen interest in cameras, never learnt photography formally. He taught himself the discipline and worked as a photo-journalist. “In his career he shot cultural and political events and got published in leading papers. He had got some powerful shots of tragic Zaveri Bazaar bomb blast and they were published in newspapers,” informed Jay.

While holding a title Guinness World Record holder for the largest camera collection in the world is a matter of pride for Dilish, on the practical side storing these cameras in their apartment in Mumbai is becoming a problem. “Also what’s the use of keeping them locked up and not sharing such a priceless treasure with the world? So we are thinking of creating a museum,” he said. Being in Mumbai, the collector is faced with a bigger challenge in protecting his collection from moisture and humidity. “We keep them in silicon bags, in plastic and we clean them regularly.”

Among other highlights of the exhibition were a 1960s Rollifex Camera, a panoramic camera, a Bessa II, manufactured in 1962 by Voigtlander, used by the royal family of Japan, Aeromatic Rassi (string) camera which was used in World War II. During bombardment from airplanes/helicopters, the camera which had a string attached to it was tied to the base of the airplane. The string would be pulled by the other person holding its other end to click the picture. Another historic camera was Kodak Panoramic Camera which was used by a lensman from Gujarat to capture the first Parliament session with Jawaharlal Nehru. A number of spy cameras were also part of the exhibition as were 27 photographs of Henri Cartier Bresson.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 3:15:43 PM |

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