New Delhi: Put on your glasses and look towards the camera, now make a pose and don’t squint… That’s perfect,” Hardiyal, a photographer at the newly inaugurated Kartavya Path, tells a customer as he takes a shot of him with the India Gate in the background.
The 41-year-old is among the 130-odd photographers who earn their livelihood by creating memories for visitors through their lens at India Gate with some of them clicking pictures for the last two-and-a-half decades.
While the Covid lockdowns had severely impacted their income, people thronging to Kartavya Path on the first day of its opening on Friday have rekindled hope of earning a steady income for the shutterbugs.
“I can get the photos printed for Rs 30 per photo. But if you want soft copies, then it will be Rs 10 per photo. Why don’t you take both,” says Hardiyal as he persuades the customer in a bid to maximise his profit.
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Moments later, a deal is struck and Hardiyal takes out the memory card from his camera and begins transferring the soft copies to the customer’s phone even as several other visitors stand around him waiting for their turn to be clicked.
Kartavya Path — stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate – as part of Central Vista Avenue was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Hardiyal, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, says he came to Delhi 24 years ago in search of greener pastures. He found photography to be intriguing and soon decided to become a professional photographer and has been at India Gate ever since.
“For the first time since 2020, I am hopeful of earning decent money today. I will buy gifts for my wife and child on the way back home,” said another photographer, Ombir.
“Earlier, we used to earn Rs 1,000 per day but then Covid hit and severely impacted our profession. Thereafter, the area was closed due to which the number of tourists reduced and so did our earnings. But today is different… I am hopeful of earning at least Rs 1,500,” said Ombir with a grin.
Ombir lives in a rented accommodation in east Delhi with his wife and child and has not paid rent for the last few months.
”I am the sole earning member in the family and my wife looks after our kid. The last few years have been tough. But finally, things are looking up,” he said.
His fellow photographers were seen prancing along the Kartavya Path, convincing visitors to get their pictures clicked ”professionally”.
Delhi-based photographer Charan Singh (41) thanked Modi for the redevelopment project and hoped that the number of visitors will increase in the days to come.
Singh has been photographing people at India Gate for 15 years.
”Covid was tough. We are hopeful that now everything will improve. Today, there is a lot of rush. I hope it keeps increasing as it will help us a lot,” Singh said.