Early Years, the 90s

Like all my peers, I started shooting on film. In the mid-80s in India, B&W was much cheaper than colour, and I could process it myself. It was easier to print than colour. Ilford FP-4 was widely available at Rs.20/- per roll if one bought a pack of 10s. Microdol-X was my preferred developer, diluted 1:3. So I shot a lot of B&W and later colour after turning a professional.

{However, back then, in the 80s, I didn’t ever think that there would be a day when one had to search for film in India, in the same way as I couldn’t imagine then that there would be a day when one can walk into a camera store and buy anything she wanted without paying customs of duty of 250%}

The images shot on film, negatives especially look beautiful and poetic. There is an enveloping softness, something intangible in those images that tugs your heart. Shooting with film teaches you the craft of photography, to visualise and patience.

For me, the 90s were the time of colour photography. India was still in the license raj. Films weren’t readily available, nor was quality processing. It was nearly impossible to get good-quality C Prints. Assignments and projects called for colour photography. Most of us used colour reversal film – Ektachrome and Fujichrome. In 1992, when I met Mr. Baldev Duggal of Duggal Color Projects at his mid-town Manhattan office, he looked at my images and said..” Hmmmm.. excellent work, but your processing is terrible.” When I explained the condition we worked in, he asked the head of his colour department, Raja Sethu, to make large format internegatives of my best colour transparencies and make prints free of cost! This edit has images from the 90s, of daily life, political vignettes, staged images…