All posts by STARS TEAM

BBC – Photographs that show a bygone India

BBC report by By Pramila Krishnan

Women in 19th Century Tamil Nadu

There was a time an event would not begin without a photographer. “I remember the days when event organisers would even delay a show if the photographer was running late,” says Balachandra Raju, a 78-year-old third-generation photographer of Sathyam studio, a still surviving photo studio in India’s southern city of Chennai (formerly Madras).

“Now, all you need is a phone that fits in the palm of your hand to take a photo.”

Photo studios are on the verge of extinction in the digital era. But as they struggle to keep theirs shutters open, one research project is looking at ways to preserve their legacy by digitising archival images.

Continue reading here in English.

Read it here in Tamil !


Chantier Ecole de conservation restauration Juin 2018

Objectifs pédagogiques

Le département des restaurateurs de l’Institut national du patrimoine forme les futurs restaurateurs du patrimoine, habilités à travailler sur les collections « musées de France » dans sept spécialités : peinture, arts textiles, photographie, sculpture, arts graphiques et livres, mobilier, arts du feu (céramique, verre, émail et métal). Dans le cadre de la formation, les étudiants réalisent des opérations de conservation-restauration in situ , dans des institutions partenaires sur des durées de 1 à 2 semaines, encadrés par un restaurateur diplômé d’état entre le début du mois de juin et la mi-juillet en France, dans les territoires ultra-marin ou à l’étranger. Continue reading Chantier Ecole de conservation restauration Juin 2018

Representing Self and Family: Preserving Tamil Studio Portraiture

1. Nalla Pillai studio_Kumbakonam (2)“Photography arrived in India in the 1840s with the first photographic society in South India being created in Madras in 1856. During the early decades of Indian photography, it was accessible almost exclusively to the colonial administration and Indian elite. However by the 1880s, commercial photography studios had found their way into the bazaars of the Presidency’s and family portraits started to appear inside Tamil households. Previously no local forms of popular portraiture existed aside from representations of the divinities.” READ MORE

New funding for digitization from the British Library !

We are pleased to announced that the British Library has granted us funding for a major project (EAP 946) in the frame of its Endangered Archive Program.

The project “Representing Self and Family. Preserving Early Tamil Studio Photography” will get a two year funding in order to document and preserve Tamil studio photography, and therefore family portraiture, since its appearance in the mid-late 19th century up until the introduction of mechanised developing and printing, which radically transformed the practices and productions of studio photography.

The BL  funded an earlier pilot project (EAP 737).

The results have been published online

Studies in Tamil Studio Archives

Pattrika N°46- July 2016

“The S.T.A.R.S. project (Studies in Tamil Studio Archives and Society) hosted by the department of Social Sciences recently completed a 12 month intensive field survey funded by the EAP (British Library Arcadia) which explored the feasibility, scope and extent of creating
an extensive digital archive of family portraiture produced by commercial photo studios of Tamil Nadu, from the second half of the 19th century up to the introduction of mechanized processing of negatives and prints in the 1980s. S.T.A.R.S. aims to understand the different modes of production, diffusion and consumption of black and white manually-processed studio photography (prints, negatives and glass plates) which are rapidly disappearing either through natural degradation but also often voluntary destruction.” READ THE FULL ARTICLE

12 month pilot project completed!

Vasen Studio Digitization

Between July 2015 and June 2016, the EAP 737 team conducted an in-depth survey of photo studios in 14 towns throughout the state of Tamil Nadu (South India) seeking out endangered photographic archives.

As a result of this pilot project, a comprehensive survey of 100 photo studios accompanied by over 1 000 digital samples of photographic material (glass-plates negatives, film negatives and prints) have been produced.

These studio photographs are now viewable online

Illustrations of the fieldwork can be viewed here : EAP 737_Studio Survey_2016

This project was funded by the Endangered Archives Programme, hosted by the French Institute of Pondichery and coordinated by Zoe Headley & Ramesh Kumar.