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World Photography Day: It's alive and clicking!

On World Photography Day today, we look at the current obsession that city folk have with digital SLR cameras and how photography today is more than just an expensive hobby

You can't miss the boom in photography today. Credit it to Ranbir Kapoor making it cool through his movies or the bomb that is social media. Be it city events like the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival or a fort trail in the Sahyadris, a digital SLR camera or a DSLR is the expected companion. If sales of DSLRs and admissions to photography schools are any indicator, photography seems to be growing into more than just a casual hobby.

A photographer
A photographer brings the Taj hotel in frame, with the Gateway of India in background. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Why the rise?
“Photography today is a positive indulgence unlike spending time on Facebook or on smartphones. Parents are encouraging their children to take it up as a profession, which wasn't accepted earlier,” shares Dr Alok Bharadwaj, executive vice president of Canon India. Vishal Bhende, director of Symbiosis School of Photography (Pune) seconds this thought. “Earlier people would pursue BA or a B Com as a degree course and perceive photography as a big risk as a profession. But today people are keen to pursue an MFA or even a PhD in photography; parents discuss with me about different courses that are available, and show a keen interest and a level of seriousness towards it,” he believes. Bhende adds that rather than opting for traditional educational streams, today, his students have cleared their standard 12 by applying for degree courses in photography.

kids photography workshop
Young participants at the kids photography workshop held at The National Centre for the Performing Arts

Talking numbers
While Bhende has witnessed an increase in student applicants in the last one and a half year, he reveals that all their courses have a strong 40-60 student capacity. The sales of cameras indicate this rise. “Last year, we saw a 32% increase in sales and this year, till August it is already 37%. The highest selling cameras are our DSLRs (their highest selling camera today is EOS 1200D), despite being an expensive product,” informs Bharadwaj. While sales are the highest in larger cities, smaller towns are also seeing a gradual increase in numbers. As for the humble compact digital camera, the demand is more for cameras with a high optical zoom, as they are great for shooting during travel, or even watching a football match. The demand for better zoom is also seen in phone cameras.

Times they are a changin'
A burgeoning market for cameras and photography courses today are female consumers. Photography schools in the city have seen a rise in the number of women opting for basic and professional courses. “15 to 20 % of our students are women, which is a higher number compared to previous years,” says Bhende.

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