Street photographers not clicking any more


The revolution in the field of information technology has not only sent ripples across the globe but also uprooted a few stereotype businesses, which were the only source of income for unskilled and raw-handed people, including street photographers.
“The advent of digital cameras and mobile phones equipped with digital cameras has provided an easier and cheaper source of photography for the random people, enabling them capture snaps at home or at recreational spots instead to hire services of street photographers,” said Sheikh Fayyaz, a street photographer, while talking to Pakistan Today.
Fayyaz, who is involved in photography business in and around Faisal Mosque for the past 10 years, said: “In past, I used to finish 10 to 12 rolls of camera films daily as the people visiting Faisal Mosque used to hire my services for photos. But now the things are different as almost every visitor has a mobile phone or digital camera; therefore, they don’t need me to snap them,” he said in a dejected tone.
According to Fayyaz, the rise of inexpensive digital and mobile phone cameras and the ability to share the images easily over the Internet has dramatically hurt their business.
Dawood Khan, another photographer, said their business started declining after the arrival of digital camera and mobile phones in Pakistan, adding that the drastic change had taken place specifically during the past five years.
The photographers said to keep their business alive, they were forced to change philosophy of their business.
“Earlier, after capturing photos, we used to hand over films to customers for getting those developed from shops but now we provide pictures to people within minutes on the spot through our own coloured printers. But the customers choose one or two images, not the whole rolls as in the past,” Dawood explained.
He said despite the changes and some loss of business, customers still value their skills for capturing major life events. “Now, we earn Rs 200 to 500 in a day,” he said.
Dozens of street photographers are available at every recreational spot of Islamabad, including Faisal Mosque, Rawal Lake, Daman-e-Koh, Pakistan Monument, Lake Viewpoint and Shakar Pariyan. They offer services for capturing their memorable moments. “We cost Rs 50 only for a single print of picture,” said Fayyaz.
A visitor Liaqat Ali, who was busy in capturing the pictures of his kids in his mobile camera, said the cellular phones had provided facility to people to capture photos.
“Everyone cannot afford a picture for Rs 50 … that’s why I preferred to use my own mobile camera,” he said.
Riaz Khan, a photographer, said though the business was on a decline day by day, the number of photographers was increasing because of the alarming unemployment rate. The reason was that it was an easy and cheaper source of income for unskilled people.
“One can start this business with a nominal investment of Rs 5,000,” Riaz said.
For starting photography business around the recreational spots, a licence issued by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is required. The photographers working at recreational spot say they are paying Rs 4,000 per year fee to the CDA.
Bilal Mughal another photographer at Faisal Mosque, said in some extent, the CDA’s inefficiency could also be blamed for affecting their business. “Every day hundreds of people visits Faisal Mosque, but they don’t come at the park adjacent to the mosque because of wild grass and bushes kept them away, thus hampering our business,” he added.
He demanded the CDA chairman to direct the officials concerned to take necessary measures to keep the Faisal Mosque’s park clean.