A Case For Travel Photography Before Digital Cameras

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The BBC recently featured a number of noted photographer Pablo Bartholomew’s stunning black-and-white pictures of Mumbai (then Bombay) from the ’70s and ’80s, a time long before steel barons and call center magnates began erecting tall glass homes and whole neighborhoods were transformed, making room for the country’s burgeoning middle class. A time also long before digital cameras and photo-editing programs could make even the worst pictures look good, and when a grainy black-and-white shot could help tell a better picture than a finely tuned Photoshopped image ever could.


One of my favorites is an image that features what is obviously an out-of-place ex-pat nonchalantly smoking a cigarette and talking with what appears to be a small boy among a group of locals reading the paper. The disregard to his presence seems to hint that the existence of a long-hair, bearded hippy in their midst was not an uncommon occurrence during this time period — and also indicates this traveler’s successful integration into an unfamiliar culture. A great shot any backpacker can be proud of.

Bartholomew’s exhibit of photos from Mumbai in the ’70s and ’80s is now on show in New Delhi at the PHOTOINK gallery, but many of the 100-plus photographs from the collection can be seen here at the gallery’s site.

[Images courtesy of Pablo Bartholomew]

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