With a DSLR camera hanging on his shoulders, and some photograph samples in his hands, 27-year-old Mohit is searching for tourists visiting India Gate. He is looking for potential customers who would want their photographs taken at one of Delhi’s most popular tourist attractions.
“I like to think of myself as someone who helps people decorate their almirahs, cupboards and shelves with memories,” he says with a wide grin. Mohit, who is a migrant labourer from UP, was introduced to this profession by a friend. He has been clicking photographs of visitors at India gate for five years now.
According to Mohit, there are nearly 300 photographers in the area around India Gate. They work by splitting into groups of five to seven people each. Each group has one printer that rolls out photographs in a matter of minutes.
Most people who visit India Gate, do not return without clicking a picture of the iconic structure. Mohit and his friends ask all visitors, so that at least one of them turn around to buy a photograph. Nowadays, only a few ask to get their photos clicked, Mohit says. His eyes suddenly turns to a couple who were clicking a photo with a selfie stick. Mohit shrugs off his disappointment and says, “Isme to bahut maza aata hai (This job gives a lot of joy).”
With the proliferation of affordable smartphones, their profession has taken a hit. Despite this, there are a few who still want to cherish their time at the India Gate with those small copies of photographs. Luckily for Mohit, it’s still a common sight to see people holding their printed photographs or tourists striking a variety of poses for a picture.
Camera settings are facile for them. Mohit says that framing according to the light conditions is the basic rule of photography. The rest, he believes, are trivial things.
Mohit then goes on to ask his friends to join us. 23-year-old, Krishna, a B.Com. graduate, has been clicking photographs as a part-time job. He says he can make enough pocket money out of this. Krishna says he is trying for a government job.
He feels that there is joy in asking people to pose – and when customers see the photographs, they often offer a word of praise.
Most of the photographers stay at India Gate from 9 AM to 9 PM daily, so they can at least make ₹300 per day. In between the conversations, they get busy showing the sample photographs to people, while trying to convince them. Some do not even listening to their claims, but others finally agree to get their photos clicked.
On many such bustling evenings at the India Gate, these photographers are in search of people who want to get their photos clicked. In the process, they also take a piece of India Gate with themselves.
But there’s only one thorn in the picture. The police regularly visit and remove the unauthorised vendors and sellers around India Gate. The moment Mohit spots a police van, he starts to walk fast with a squawk : “Ye police bas hami log ko pakadti hai. Vijay mallya log aaramse jee rahe hai (These cops only try to snatch us. People like Vijay Malliya are living happily),” he adds.