photography

Family Portraiture: An attempt at reading a personal album

We dive into a study of family portraiture with a set of three albums belonging to John Sinclair, the First Lord Pentland, and the Governor of Madras between 1912 and 1919—and draw out the themes that emerge from this treasure trove of 20th-century photography

Parallel Histories: Personal Photos as a Political Statement

Powerful pieces of imagery from personal albums are setting down in history what is otherwise undocumented and therefore unacknowledged, acting as the nuanced subtext that is drastically missing from our public rhetoric. We talk to the curators of these intimate archives

Now reading: The stories every picture tells

An initiation into the Sarmaya team involves the confrontation of and acclimating to certain books from our library. New ‘uns are told this is necessary reading meant to familiarise them with the genres of the collection. Each object inhabits a world that is resonant and multi-faceted and it’s impossible to know where to start. “Today… Read more »

Early Photography

A 21st-century take on vintage photography techniques like platinum prints, stereoscopic photos and cyanotypes. Plus, an intriguing trail of portraits of Indian women from the Caribbean

People of India

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” As the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair in the early 1900s, Edward Steichen knew what he was talking about. Portraiture is the result of a dynamic collaboration between photographer and model, both of whom colour the final frame with… Read more »

On The Road in Madhubani

Photographer and author Chirodeep Chaudhuri curates a virtual exhibition of photographs taken during Sarmaya’s trip to Madhubani

Armenian Ghat on the Hoogly River, Calcutta

This image shows the Armenian Ghat by the Hooghly River. It is said to have been built in 1734 by Manvel Hazaar Maliyan, an Armenian Trade merchant. The Armenians came to Bengal in the 16th century CE, during the Mughal rule, for commercial purposes and established a settlement much before the British East India Company… Read more »

Chowringhee street, Calcutta

This view looks east from across the Maidan and the Chowringhee road with a clear landscape of the public buildings and private houses. Chowringhee Road was one of the Maidan’s major streets, and one of Calcutta’s broadest avenues. It was almost two miles in length and about eighty feet in width, with houses on one… Read more »

View of Government House, Calcutta

This view looks north-west from the Ochterlony Monument across the maidan towards the Government House and building along the Esplanade row. The image also captures other important buildings partly visible in the background, such as the General Post Office, the Writers’ Building, and St. John’s Church. In the 1760s, the establishing years of the East… Read more »

View of the Maidan, Calcutta

This picture shows the north side of the vast open space, known as the Maidan, in the centre of Calcutta, bordered by Chowringhee Road. The Maidan is surrounded by the city’s main public buildings, such as the Government House, on the far left behind the Ochterlony Monument, now called the Shahid Minar. Open spaces were… Read more »

Dancing Girl, Western India

This is a portrait of an unidentified dancer from Western India.  The dancer is photographed seated against a very peculiar wallpaper. She holds a hand-held fan in one hand and a small bowl in the other. She is dressed in a very simplistic style with a zari bordered sari and wears minimum jewellery. This photograph… Read more »

Dancer and Musicians, Bombay

This is a photograph of an unidentified nautch party in Bombay. It was taken by a French photographer Eugene Auguste Taurines who was active in Bombay from the mid-1880s to around 1901 and ran a studio in the city.  Starting around the Mughal era, entourages of dancing girls performed for rulers and chieftains, not only… Read more »

Mumbai Unfiltered

Discover the city of Mumbai from these unique and unexpected perspectives brought to you by 20 Instagram handles. From window art to the fishermen’s lives, these photographers will make you appreciate this bustling city in a whole new way.

Visiting Lala Deen Dayal’s India

In the mid-1870s, an Indian engineer emerged as an unlikely documentarian of both the British Raj and princely India. The story of Lala Deen Dayal is tied to the fortunes of Hyderabad and its flamboyant sixth Nizam