Gurugram: At the young age of 20, Aditya Arya, started his journey without many thoughts and with a camera in hand. It is a journey that took him to many places around the country and the world clicking photographs. This photographic journey of his culminated in a predictable place, a museum of cameras. The interesting part is that this is a museum that he has created himself.
Aditya wanted to see places, people and cultures through his camera lens. He realised photography is a profession that could take him around the world. So, it became his reason to travel. Aditya Arya was 17 when his father gifted him his first camera- Zeiss Ikon (This camera is now a part of the exhibition in the museum). Three years later, he stepped into his professional career as a travel photographer in 1980. He worked for some travel magazines and did projects about people, places, tribes, architecture and many more. Aditya has also done still photography for some great celluloid masterpieces of Bollywood such as ‘Jaane bhi do Yaaro’, a 1983 film.
As an inquisitive boy since childhood, Aditya enjoyed reading National Geographic the most. “I used to love going through those articles and pictures and realised that photography is a profession that can take you around the world” he says. That was when his interest in cameras and photography developed. He learned everything he knows by reading and experimenting.
Aditya had always been interested in the history of cameras and photography. He is a graduate of history from Delhi University. During his national and international tours, he came across several camera museums which intrigued him as a photographer. That is when he started visiting dealers and junk markets to collect antique cameras. Soon the idea of opening a museum of photography equipment germinated in Aditya’s mind. He started his own museum back in 2009 in his basement. From his personal collection, it soon became the largest non-profit camera museum in South East Asia- Museo Camera.
Museo Camera has a permanent exhibition of more than 2,500 cameras along with other equipment used in photography. Each camera in the museum has been personally collected by Aditya Arya. In the 18,000 sq. ft of space dedicated to the museum, the whole architecture has been planned and designed by Aditya himself. A public-private partnership, Museo Camera has a collection of cameras and photography equipment dating back to the 1850s. Being a historian, Aditya has created a visual journey through the history of photography for visitors after years of extensive research.
The collection ranges from Pinhole Camera and Camera Obscura to the modern age digital cameras. The exhibition also includes K20s camera series, used in the second World War.
Getting this collection together involved luck and some timely action on his part. One day, a junk dealer called Aditya to sell a K20 camera. As soon as Aditya saw the pictures, he immediately ran to the dealer and added the K20 camera to his collection. Similarly, he collected all the cameras present in the museum. The tour of the museum gives the visitors an unforgettable experience. It is a great learning opportunity for those who are genuinely interested in photography.
Born and brought up in Delhi, Aditya grew up in a supportive family. His parents never stopped him or doubted his decisions about photography. As a self-taught man, Aditya is also grateful for his fate that kept giving him opportunities. He says, ”Sometimes things come to you in strange ways. You have to be aware and active enough to grab the opportunity.” Aditya grabbed every possible opportunity in life that came his way. Climbing the ladder step by step, he has now reached the pinnacle. After a successful career as a photographer, Aditya now looks after the museum. Various workshops, sessions and classes are scheduled regularly in the museum. These sessions give budding photographers a great chance to learn and explore. Aditya still believes that no knowledge is better than the knowledge gained from books. He encourages the new generation to learn by reading more.
“Anyone can be a photographer, but successful are those who understand their subject” says Aditya.