Digital imaging entrepreneurs

Affordable digital photography equipments have given birth to numerous street entrepreneurs. It is surprising how many applications of photographs people can come up with, when I recall the use of photographs merely 20 years ago. While I still hear the occasional question of “why do you take the photo of that?” – a habit from the past where photographs were reserved for special occasion only – it seems clear that we are marching towards the creative world of photography in our everyday lives.

In India, digital imaging entrepreneurs are still taking advantage of the fact that they can set up the business cheaply and majority of the population still do not own cameras of their own. Heavily decorated photograph booths, with the essential prop of a motorcycle or printouts of bollywood stars are the basic requirement – to create the special occasion for the customers. Below images were taken at a local fair ground in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

More advanced photo studios may offer digitally re-touched imaging options, thanks to the development of easy-to-use photo editing software. This reduces the physical space burden of setting up a photo studio, as the owner is able to photoshop in a “desirable” background to the photo. Below photos were taken & photoshopped by a photo studio owner near Erode, Tamil Nadu.

In South Korea where the rate of digital camera ownership is relatively much higher, local entrepreneurs have to bring something more than a camera and a printer can do. He was selling a mobile phone strap personalized with your photograph. He took the photo, edited immediately on a computer with custom-made photoshop template reflecting the customer’s opinion, printed it, and used the hair dryer to fit the printout onto a little trinket that the customer has chosen. The whole process took about 20min, which is still a long time – I am not sure how scalable his business will be.

One sure fact is that our own images semi-eternalized by the photographs are increasingly influencing our memory, attitude to real-time experiences, and relationship with others.

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