Kamat's Passion for Photography
My father (affectionately called as Bappa) has always traveled with his camera. Photography was never an affordable hobby in India, and in the days when we could not afford the film and chemicals, he would buy the 1000 feet bootlegged NP-55 film from movie makers. He would then hand-transfer them to reusable film cassettes. He had stitched himself a portable darkroom (one with entrance only for the camera and his hands), so he could take three extra shots by minimizing the leader. As a result, most of Bappa's reels have over forty-five frames in them!
Every house that we have lived in (including father's temporary camp in Madhya Pradesh), a part of the habitat was assigned as a darkroom. My father would hand develop the films, but rarely printed the pictures he took, because we simply could not afford them.
In the 70s and 80s, Kamat relied upon friends and acquaintances to provide film and supplies with varied level of success; once the film was exposed to light prior to usage -- the priceless pictures of tribal life are hence not of good quality; once the film was already exposed; once we had to send the film all the way to Canada for processing; once a reel that was supplied had no perforations in it -- Bappa used it anyway by loading one frame at a time!!
But Bappa never stopped or slowed down. It is my estimate that he has taken over 200,000 pictures just for the joy of it (and hence the name to our home: Kamat House of Pictures)
In June of year 2000, we convinced a color lab in Bangalore to make prints from the black and white film. This was to become a turning point, because suddenly, due to the technological marvel of automatic printing, we could see the wealth of his work in hard copy!!! It was pure joy.
In his last years, father switched to the color film. A health problem in 1998 only strengthened Bappa's resolve to photograph the common and the uncommon of India -- many color pictures in the Faces of India, Street Children, Beggars, and Vegetable vendors were hence taken.
His experiences photographing the ordinary and extraordinary things of India can be compiled into several volumes! He has used every trick in the book to photograph his subjects, some of which we will feature here as Stories behind the Stories.
Stories Behind Kamat's Pictures
|Kamat's Potpourri Colophon Backstage Passion for Photography|
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