Images showcase culture: Aditya Arya

Aditya Arya's professional photography journey began in 1980 after graduating in history from the St. Stephen's College, Delhi and has ever since played a crucial role in establishing the India Photo Archive Foundation and the Neel Dongre Awards/Grants for Excellence in Photography. He now follows up his passion at the photography archive and Museo Camera, the largest not-for-profit photography museum in South-East Asia.

Arya has curated several shows of archival and contemporary visual works nationally and internationally. These include the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and the National Museum, New Delhi, Hyderabad and several galleries and museums in Canada, London, France and Spain.

In an exclusive interview, Millennium Post's Ravi V. Chhabra spoke to him about various facets of image, imagery and imagination:

Looking back, has your operose journey that began as a freelance advertising photographer to the Founder-Director of Museo Camera been satisfying?

It's been satisfying and enjoyable.

Is photography an art or a practiced skill requiring good eyes?

Well, the mobile phones have made it convenient. Yes, the camera is only a device, eyes are most important. The camera is a device to convert your vision.

When did the idea to have a camera museum enter your mind?

It was only in 2016, one fine day in my house basement that some government officers were with me and the idea of a museum germinated.

Which are five of the oldest cameras in the museum?

We have all the brands in thousands, including the equipments used since the beginning. There is also spy camera - Picka made in 1904 and many from the hundreds.

How many of such museums are there in the world?

I am yet to see one (laughs) can do a research. There is a difference between a museum, an art place and galleries. Ours is a museum, so we have many layers into it as you've seen.

From where have you sourced the cameras and related rare memorabilia?

We've sourced them from all over the world.

What do you suggest to people having personal collection of cameras?

I feel one should keep them and pass it on to the family.

Which is your favourite medium - the film or digital with reasons?

It's digital for the ease and analog for the love of it. Both have their own space.

Do you make prints out here?

Yes, we have the labs here in the museum. We do make prints and huge ones. But there is less demand these days.

Do you think like the bellbottom and vinyl records, the analog cameras will make a comeback?

Oh yes, it is already. We have plastic bodies cameras today and we sell about 40 to 50 each month.

Has the Polaroid made any advances in technologically?

Unfortunately, not. Fuji does have these but no great development.

What is culture vis-à-vis your museum?

It is about birth, entertainment and education. It has history....contemporary art and the fact is, images showcase a period, thus the culture keeps evolving.

Can we say Museo Camera is a grand exhibition arena coupled with a museum and a tasteful cafe?

Yes, we are more than that, it is an entire experience.

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