The field of photography as an artistic medium has had to battle to be considered an art form. The diverse areas in which it is used had initially made viewers sceptical of it as an art form but over the years this has changed, in particular as galleries and museums of international repute like Tate and MoMA have begun to display their photographic collections. In India there are still those who feel ‘anyone can take a good photograph’ but that too is changing and there is a whole new breed of collectors who are looking at photography as a serious art form - more galleries are exhibiting photography, photographers are becoming better known on the Indian and world stage and it is now a regular medium on sale in art auctions.
Many Indian photographers are internationally established like Raghu Rai, S.Paul, Dayanita Singh and Prabuddha Dasgupta to name a few - and now, well known Indian artists like Rameshwar Broota and Atul Bhalla, who have until now used more traditional mediums, are also using photography to great acclaim in their work. Their artworks command a premium as they are already established artists, which lends credibility in many minds with their photographic works - and the medium of art photography as a whole. It all helps to add to the groundswell of positive opinions on photography as an artistic medium, educating audiences, buyers, gallerists and critics alike.
I started out as a collector, inspired by the works of great world photographers like Ansel Adams, then became a photographer and finally a gallerist when I opened Wonderwall in 2007. Today, with a physical gallery presence in Delhi we encourage our visitors to look broadly at the whole medium - engage with not just one off images but examine the body of an artist’s work and look beyond the black and white images traditionally labelled ‘art photography’ and enter the vibrant realm of colour photography - we want to challenge and expand the viewer’s perceptions of photography, to delve beyond the obvious and engage them on new levels so that they continue to build their knowledge and their collections.
I always tell potential buyers that they should never look at any form of art as an investment, but as an asset... the way they look at jewellery. The value will appreciate over time but they should derive the most value from hanging their artwork on their walls and enjoying it every day, which cannot be quantified.
The market has started expanding rapidly and given the fact that more and more Indian photographers are garnering international recognition, the prices are also beginning to increase. I hope that my enthusiasm for the medium will encourage viewers to not only enjoy learning about photography as well as maybe starting their own collections - everyone starts somewhere and hopefully I have played a role in establishing photography as a mainstream art form in India - to be exhibited, to be enjoyed and to be collected.
After completing his MBA in the US, Ajay Rajgarhia started his career as an Investment Banker. He went on to run his own garment manufacturing and export business for 14 years before giving into the love of his life; photography. He decided to commit himself to being a fulltime photographer and also started Wonderwall, India’s first e-commerce enabled website dedicated to fine art photography. In 2010, Wonderwall opened its gallery in Lado Sarai, Delhi. He has also curated photography shows for galleries such as Mystic Strokes, Pune, Gallery Sanskriti, Kolkata, Mahua – The Art Gallery, Bangalore, Prakrit Art Gallery, Chennai and Mantra Art Gallery, Ahmedabad.